Apple is adding two new voices to Siri’s English offerings, and eliminating the default “female voice” selection in the latest beta version of iOS. This means that every person setting up Siri will choose a voice for themselves and it will no longer default to the voice assistant being female, a topic that has come up quite a bit with regards to bias in voice interfaces over the past few years.
The beta version should be live now and available to program participants.
I believe that this is the first of these assistants to make the choice completely agnostic with no default selection made. This is a positive step forward as it allows people to choose the voice that they prefer without the default bias coming into play. The two new voices also bring some much-needed variety to the voices of Siri, offering more diversity in speech sound and pattern to a user picking a voice that speaks to them.
The two new voices use source talent recordings that are then run through Apple’s Neural text to speech engine, making the voices flow more organically through phrases that are actually being generated on the fly.
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. Here are some samples of the voices in action:
The new voices are available to English-speaking users around the world and Siri users can select a personal preference of voice in 16 languages.