(Cybertech) – Apple will no longer make Siri’s female voice the default option on its devices, with the release of the latest iOS 14.5 software beta. The company is also introducing two completely new Siri voices for English speakers globally.
According to TechCrunch, the change is effective immediately and will come to all iPhone, iPad, and HomePod users once the update is publicly released. So, while setting up your Apple device, you will now be prompted to choose a preferred Siri voice. Previously, your device would default to a female Siri voice, though you could dig into settings later and pick another voice if desired.
As for the new Siri voices, TechCrunch said Apple used new source talent and ran them through its Neural text to speech engine to make them sound more natural. It wanted them to “flow more organically through phrases that are actually being generated on the fly”. With the latest iOS beta, Siri voices in Ireland, Italy, and Russia have also received these Neural text-to-speech improvements.
In total, 38 of Siri’s voices now sound more natural.
“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,” Apple said in a statement to the media Wednesday. “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.”
In other words, this change is just the latest example of Apple trying to eliminate gender associations from its digital voice assistant.
Writing by Maggie Tillman.