You can now preview Apple’s new less-gendered Siri voice in iOS 14.5 that isn’t explicitly male or female on your iPhone before the software update goes live.
- Apple has hired a voice actor from the LGBTQ+ community to do a new Siri voice
- The new voice will become available when iOS 14.5 launches by mid-March
- Scroll down to preview the new LGBTQ+ Siri voice coming with iOS 14.5
iOS 15.4 brings a less-gendered Siri voice
Apple has added another new Siri voice option with iOS 14.5 which sounds less gendered, meaning it’s less explicitly male- or female-sounding, Axios reported. An Apple spokesperson has confirmed that the new voice was recorded by a member of the LGBTQ+ community. We don’t really know which part of the community the Siri voice actor originates from because Apple did not provide any additional details. Read: How to change Siri’s voice on each Apple device you own
It marks a fifth American voice for Siri available on the iPhone, iPad and Mac with iOS 15.4, iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3. As noted by developer Steve Mosser on Twitter, even the underlying file name “Quinn” sounds gender-neutral.
“We’re excited to introduce a new Siri voice for English speakers, giving users more options to choose a voice that speaks to them,” Apple said in a statement. “Millions of people around the world rely on Siri every day to help get things done, so we work to make the experience feel as personalized as possible.”
How to preview Apple’s less-gendered Siri voice in iOS 15.4
Michael Simon at Macworld created an audio clip, embedded ahead, so you could check out for yourself how the new gender-neutral Siri voice sounds.
It’s rather uncanny how gender-neutral it sounds. I listened to it yesterday and it sounded slightly female to my ears; today I listened again and it sounded slightly male. Sort of like one of those optical illusions that changes when you stare at it.
As reminder, Apple no longer describes any of the Siri voices.
The new Siri voice is US-only, for now
The new voice is only available to users in the United States, meaning it’s part of the voice set available with the “American” option. It isn’t available for the other language varieties, but that could change in the future. Currently, Apple offers five American Siri voices and just two voices of any other language.
iOS 15.4 Beta 4 changes 🧵: Apple adds a 5th American Siri voice with filename ‘Quinn’ pic.twitter.com/HFQZV1oF0I
— Steve Moser (@SteveMoser) February 22, 2022
To our ear, the new voice is much less gender-specific. It could easily pass as a cis woman or man or a trans person, but we’ll let you be the judge of that. So listen to iOS 14.5’s new Siri voice and let us know what you think about it in the comments.
Why has Apple stopped labeling Siri’s voice gender?
AI-powered assistants such as Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant have long featured a female (or male, in some markets) voice by default, contributing to gender inequality. A 2019 report from the United Nations slammed voice assistants as perpetuating the idea that “women are obliging, docile and eager-to-please helpers, available at the touch of a button or with a blunt voice command.”
Apple is fighting bias in voice interfaces and gender stereotypes among voice assistants in ways more than one. As of iOS 14.5, for example, Siri voices are no longer labeled as male or female. Instead, you choose between “Voice 1,” “Voice 2,” etc. Those same voices previously had gender-specific “Male” and “Female” labels.
How to change Siri’s voice
To reiterate, on iOS 14.5 and later when you go to Settings → Siri & Search → Siri Voice to pick from the available voices, you’re presented with gender-neutral labels. There’s no way to distinguish voice gender without actually setting the voice as your new default in the Siri settings. Read: 30+ ways to free storage space on your Mac