Apple is currently working on releasing the latest major update to iOS 14. The company just seeded the sixth beta of iOS 14.5 earlier today. And it turns out the upcoming new software will feature a pretty big change for Siri.
Apple has been tweaking its digital assistant for years now, aiming to improve its functionality for users. While that will remain the case, Apple is making a different kind of change with the upcoming launch of iOS 14.5 (via TechCrunch). In an effort to tackle bias in voice interfaces (which predominantly lean towards a female voice), Apple is making it so that Siri will no longer default to the female voice it does now.
This means that, after the public launch of iOS 14.5, choosing Siri’s default voice will now be part of the setup process when getting a new handset. And, with folks already using their device and upgrading to iOS 14.5, they will be able to choose Siri’s voice as well.
Here’s a recording of Siri’s new lineup of American voices in iOS 14.5. Voices 1 and 4 are the existing ones, voices 2 and 3 are the new ones. pic.twitter.com/6emei4B3Z9
— John Gruber (@gruber) April 1, 2021
Apple is adding a bit of diversity to the mix, too. The company is adding a pair of new voices for customers to choose from:
We’re excited to introduce two new Siri voices for English speakers and the option for Siri users to select the voice they want when they set up their device,” a statement from Apple reads. “This is a continuation of Apple’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion, and products and services that are designed to better reflect the diversity of the world we live in.
According to the original report from TC, the two new voices utilize “source talent recordings”, and then are run through Apple’s own Neural text-to-speech engine. The goal is to keep the organic feeling to the voice assistant, no matter what speaking voice Siri is using at the time. From the report, apparently the new voices sound very good:
I’ve heard the new voices and they sound pretty fantastic, with natural inflection and smooth transitions. They’ll be a welcome addition of choice to iOS users. I’ll embed some samples here after the beta drops.
The new voices are available or English speakers, but they will be available across the globe, according to the report.
Do you use a different voice for Siri, rather than the default female one?