With iOS 7 bringing a new voice to Siri two years after the interactive assistant's introduction alongside the iPhone 4S, longtime voice actor Susan Bennett has outed herself as Siri's original American voice in an interview with CNN. Bennett says she was prompted to come forward after a story that ran on The Verge last week gave some the mistaken impression that voiceover artist Allison Dufty, featured in an accompanying video, was the service's voice.
"I wasn't sure that I wanted that notoriety, and I also wasn't sure where I stood legally," she said. "And then this Verge video came out...And it seemed like everyone was clamoring to find out who the real voice behind Siri is, and so I thought, well, you know, what the heck? This is the time."
Susan Bennett, a voice actor since the 1970s, has verified that she is the voice behind Apple's personal assistant, Siri.
Bennett began her voiceover career in the 1970s as the advertising voice of "Tillie the All-Time Teller," the nation's first automatic teller machine. She has since provided audio for GPS systems, corporate phone trees, and is heard by thousands of travelers each day as the airport terminal voice for Delta Airlines.
She laid down the audio tracks that would eventually become Siri in July 2005 as part of a project for ScanSoft, formerly a large computer speech applications company that later merged with rival Nuance. Nuance confirmed earlier this year that the company is responsible for Siri's natural language processing capabilities.
A colleague first alerted Bennett that Siri may be based on her voice soon after Apple took the covers off of the service. After listening to the product video on Apple's website, Bennett says she had no doubt. "It's obviously me. It's my voice," she said.
Several individuals with knowledge of the deal vouched for Bennett's involvement, including the owner of the company she worked with on the project, Atlanta-based GM Voices. For further confirmation, CNN brought in an expert in forensic audio, who analyzed both Bennett's and Siri's voices and said the two "are identical -- a 100% match."
Two other Siri voice actors have previously been identified. British journalist Jon Briggs reportedly provided the voice behind Siri's United Kingdom version while Australian singer and actor Karen Jacobsen is believed to have played the same role in Australia.