iOS 14: downloadable custom voice synthesizers to replace built-in speech voices

Apple is said to be working on a new framework in iOS 14 that would permit developers to provide custom text-to-speech synthesizers to replace iOS’s default speech voice.

These could range from Space Odyssey’s HAL 9000 computer to the Majel Barrett-Roddenberry computer voice from “Start Trek” and beyond. According to MacRumors, Apple is working on a new software framework for developers, dubbed VoiceProvider.

Apps that implement it should let people download custom voices from the App Store.

Voice synthesizer extensions would be bundled with apps from the App Store and then could be offered to the system to replace the default speech voice, which could be important for languages and dialects that Apple does not support. This could potentially extend to an API for the HomePod, although this is not for certain.

The framework should debut as early as iOS 14, but Apple could postpone it until a later date because it appears to be, as MacRumors writes, in the early stages of development.

Apple should preview the upcoming iOS 14, macOC 10.16, watchOS 7 and tvOS 14 updates at its Worldwide Developers Conference that should take place this summer. However, it’s looking increasingly likely that a physical gathering in San Jose could be cancelled in favor of virtual meetings and presentations due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.