Cantonese on iPhone & iPad

English | 廣東話 (測試版)

How to write, type, listen, dictate, and use Siri in Cantonese with your Apple iPhone or iPad.


Write

To input Chinese by Handwriting or strokes:

  1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboards
  2. Tap on Keyboards > Add New Keyboard … > Cantonese, Traditional (繁體廣東話)
  3. Image showing Cantonese Handwriting options on iOS
  4. Select your preferences:

Now, wherever you see the keyboard, you can Hold the Globe icon ( 🌐 ) and select the keyboard you want.

Image showing the iOS Keyboard with an pointed to the Globe Icon Language Selector on the bottom left of the keyboard, to switch Keyboards. Image showing Cantonese input options on the iOS Keyboard Language Selector.

Type

Cantonese can be typed using different romanization (pronunciation) methods. These include Jyutping (粵拼 | jyut⁶pîng³), Yale (耶魯 | yèh-lóuh), Sidney Lau, Cantonese Pinyin, Guangdong Romanization, and 'Lazy Sound' (懶音 | lǎan⁵jām¹).

Jyutping and Yale are two of the most popular Cantonese input methods. Jyutping is more modern, technologically recognized, phonetically accurate, and intuitive to native Cantonese and IPA users. Yale is more intuitive to native English speakers, has a longer history, and can be found in traditional textbooks. It is easy to switch between both (jyut⁶pîng³, yèh⁴lóuh⁵).

Typing Cantonese on an iPhone or iPad is officially supported by Apple. This was introduced in 2022 with iOS 16 (allowing for Jyutping, Yale, or other methods.

  1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboards
  2. Tap on Keyboards > Add New Keyboard … Cantonese, Traditional (繁體廣東話)
  3. Select a Cantonese Phonetic Input Method (e.g. Jyutping)

Alternatively, there are plenty of third party keyboards that can be used to type Cantonese on an iPhone or iPad. These include:


Dictate

*Note: These instructions are for devices running iOS 11 or higher.

To input Cantonese Chinese by speaking to your iPhone (Speech to Text):

  1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard
  2. Ensure “Enable Dictation” is On
  3. Select Dictation Languages
  4. Select Cantonese
Image showing Cantonese selected as a Dictation Language on iOS

Now, wherever you see the keyboard, you can hold the Dictation button ( ) and select Cantonese (粵語). You can also hold the Globe button ( 🌐 ) when dictating to change languages.

Image of iOS Keyboard with hand pointing to the bottom-left microphone button. Image of iOS Cantonese Dictation Options overlay - on Chinese Handwriting Keyboard. Image of iOS Keyboard listening for Cantonese Speech.

Note: You must have a default Chinese input method, before being able to dictate in Cantonese (see “Write” section).

Note 2: To use punctuation, you would say "問號" for "?", "感嘆號" for "!", and "句號" for "。".


Listen (TTS)

To get your iPhone to read out Cantonese Chinese text (Text To Speech):

  1. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Spoken Content, and turn on .
    ( If you're on iOS 12 or older, this is: Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech )
  2. Turn on “Speak Selection”.
  3. (Optional) You can also turn on “Speak Screen”. This allows you to hear the content of the screen when you swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen. Image of iOS Speech screen, with 'Speak Selection' and 'Speak Screen' on.
  4. Under Voices > Chinese, select "Chinese (Hong Kong)" iOS Voice Settings: Chinese Hong Kong, Sing-Ji voice selected.

Now you can get your iOS Device to speak Cantonese by highlighting text and selecting Speak.

iOS Speak Option for Chinese Cantonese text

Siri

  1. Go to Settings > Siri & Search > Language and select “Chinese (Cantonese - Hong Kong)”

Now you can use Siri in Cantonese.

Image of Siri on iPhone being asked to set a 7am alarm, in Cantonese Chinese.

Tip: You can get Siri to listen to you with "Listen for '喂Siri'". Siri will ask you to repeat a few phrases:

See a list of Cantonese Siri Commands

Footnotes

Note: This document is written for devices running iOS 11 or higher. Instructions vary for older devices.

Note: For bilingual users, iOS11 has separated Siri, Dictation, and Region from each other - allowing for better bilingual usage (e.g. English and Cantonese).

If you have any questions or suggestions, please get in touch at: cantonese.tools@gmail.com