Actress says credit for Siri's personality belongs to Apple programmers, not voice work

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in iPhone
The attitude displayed by Apple's Siri assistant can really be attributed to programmers, not voice work, according to the actress responsible for Siri's U.S. female voice, Susan Bennett.




"We recorded hundreds of phrases and sentences that were created to get all the sound combinations in the English language," Bennett explained in a Typeform interview. "Now, the English language has over a million words, so you can imagine how long this took. The initial recordings took a month in 2005, four hours a day, five days a week, then I did updates for four months in 2011/12."

To get the necessary sounds, Bennett was made to say various nonsense phrases, like "Malitia oi hallucinate, buckry ockra ooze." Adding extra challenge, she had to use the same pace, pitch, and tone for every line, something Bennett noted was also very tedious.

Although she credits the use of her voice for making Siri sound less robotic, Bennett remarked that the various actors Apple uses don't have a role in what Siri says.

"It all has to do with the programmers," she commented.

Siri is currently available in 21 languages, a number of which have multiple actors for different genders, dialects, and/or accents. English alone has nine different dialects, and even people choosing U.S. English can pick from male or female voices in three different accents -- American, Australian, or British.

Bennett wasn't originally aware she was going to be Siri, thinking instead she was helping with a switchboard system. Indeed her main recording sessions took place before the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, and Siri originally debuted as a third-party app -- Apple would only buy Siri's developer later, and integrate the technology into iOS in time for the iPhone 4S in 2011.

The assistant is expected to get various enhancements for this year's "iOS 11," such as deeper integration with iMessage and iCloud.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,060member
    Our Volvo's navigation system seems to use the same voice actress as the default Siri voice (at least in the US).
  • Reply 2 of 20
    My 2004 Prius uses a much more natural and pleasant sounding female voice than Siri. I've grown rather fond of "Wanda Nomora" (my apt nickname for her).
  • Reply 3 of 20
    Bennett wasn't originally aware she was going to be Siri, thinking instead she was helping with a switchboard system
    This is exactly what Apple needs to do with Siri. 
    I want Siri to answer my calls and screen them and only put through the ones that are important.  If Apple could solve the problem of all the SPAM calls I get every day, I would be very happy. 
  • Reply 4 of 20
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 605member
    Me: Hey Siri, when does my flight take off?
    Siri: There are 5 taco places in your area.

    A part of me likes how dumb Siri really is. As for being a real AI I would compare Siri to a stupid pet trick. 

    randominternetpersondysamoria
  • Reply 5 of 20
    I use Siri for Notes, Texts, Calls, and directions...nothing too complicated. Works fine for me. I like it with the AirPods when running listening to podcasts and music. :)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 20
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,906member
    Hey, she doesn't look like the Siri that appeared in The Big Bang Theory...


    entropyswatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 20
    Bennett wasn't originally aware she was going to be Siri, thinking instead she was helping with a switchboard system
    This is exactly what Apple needs to do with Siri. 
    I want Siri to answer my calls and screen them and only put through the ones that are important.  If Apple could solve the problem of all the SPAM calls I get every day, I would be very happy. 

    I love the fact that Apple now provides a text version of all my voicemails.  I get the same call (from completely different numbers from different states) about a mysterious warrantee expiring over and over again.  I don't even to have to listen to it to see that I can simply delete it.  That's almost as good as what you're looking for.
    watto_cobrapscooter63chuy@mac.com
  • Reply 8 of 20
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,757member
    spice-boy said:
    Me: Hey Siri, when does my flight take off?
    Siri: There are 5 taco places in your area.

    A part of me likes how dumb Siri really is. As for being a real AI I would compare Siri to a stupid pet trick. 

    Yet, I can get the list of restaurants around in no matter what type, just like this
    - restaurants around here
    - inexpensive restaurants --- correct list
    - expensive restaurants around here --- correct list
    - expensive (whatever cuisine) restaurants around here- correct list
    - bars near me - correct list
    - bars downtown Montreal - correct list
    - bars near Mcgill campus 
    - gas station near here - correct list
    - nearest grocery store - correct one
    - nearest movie theater - correct list

    - when is my flight leaving - response : couldn't find any events in the next 3 months
    - remind me to take my flight tomorrow - Reminder put in
    Then I set up a flight in my calendar - new event, flight 6pm, confirm
    then saying:
    - when is my flight leaving, tells me 6pm.

    all of this is 100%, never get it wrong.

    - IF I say what you said,
    - I get the link to the departure page of the website for Montreal Trudeau airport which would be the best it can do unless It
    can knows my flight number and its plugged into the flight db. Who knows if that's coming.

    Your response looks more like it didn't understand what you were saying, not the AI part

    - with the app they just bought to automate tasks, they could let people open up web sites of third party and get info from it.







    edited April 2017 pscooter63
  • Reply 9 of 20
    I tried to have her say some inappropriate things... then turned her off.

    Really, If I can't even get an AI to say dirty things to me.  What good is she?

    #JustJoking


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 20
    foggyhill said:
    spice-boy said:
    Me: Hey Siri, when does my flight take off?
    Siri: There are 5 taco places in your area.

    A part of me likes how dumb Siri really is. As for being a real AI I would compare Siri to a stupid pet trick. 

    Yet, I can get the list of restaurants around in no matter what type, just like this
    - restaurants around here
    - inexpensive restaurants --- correct list
    - expensive restaurants around here --- correct list
    - expensive (whatever cuisine) restaurants around here- correct list
    - bars near me - correct list
    - bars downtown Montreal - correct list
    - bars near Mcgill campus 
    - gas station near here - correct list
    - nearest grocery store - correct one
    - nearest movie theater - correct list
    - when is my flight leaving - response : couldn't find any events in the next 3 months
    - remind me to take my flight tomorrow - Reminder put in
    Then I set up a flight in my calendar - new event, flight 6pm, confirm
    then saying:
    - when is my flight leaving, tells me 6pm.

    all of this is 100%, never get it wrong.

    - IF I say what you said,
    - I get the link to the departure page of the website for Montreal Trudeau airport which would be the best it can do unless It
    can knows my flight number and its plugged into the flight db. Who knows if that's coming.

    Your response looks more like it didn't understand what you were saying, not the AI part

    - with the app they just bought to automate tasks, they could let people open up web sites of third party and get info from it.







    Siri tends to ge lazy when asking for a restaurant where I live, she tends to list corporate places like Starbucks and Chipotle over independent eateries. I suppose that has something to do with it source and maybe placement in Yelp or Google. Anyway I stick to basics like set an alarm for ..., call John Smith...movies near me... She does not handle non English names well to say the least. 
  • Reply 11 of 20
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,818member
    spice-boy said:
    Me: Hey Siri, when does my flight take off?
    Siri: There are 5 taco places in your area.

    A part of me likes how dumb Siri really is. As for being a real AI I would compare Siri to a stupid pet trick. 

    Out of all the things called AI These days, EVERYTHING is still less intelligent than a pet. Or an insect. There's no intelligence at all, just a bad mimicry of it. The future is not so futuristic...
  • Reply 12 of 20
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,405member
    Were I her, I don't think I'd want to take credit for Siri's "personality", either  ;)
  • Reply 13 of 20
    Siri tends to ge lazy when asking for a restaurant where I live, she tends to list corporate places like Starbucks and Chipotle over independent eateries. I suppose that has something to do with it source and maybe placement in Yelp or Google. Anyway I stick to basics like set an alarm for ..., call John Smith...movies near me... She does not handle non English names well to say the least.  Yes, apple should add some way to teach siri names for your common contacts that it can't understand. It is frustrating that i can't use siri to call my close friends with non english names
  • Reply 14 of 20
    Bennett wasn't originally aware she was going to be Siri, thinking instead she was helping with a switchboard system
    This is exactly what Apple needs to do with Siri. 
    I want Siri to answer my calls and screen them and only put through the ones that are important.  If Apple could solve the problem of all the SPAM calls I get every day, I would be very happy. 

    I love the fact that Apple now provides a text version of all my voicemails.  I get the same call (from completely different numbers from different states) about a mysterious warrantee expiring over and over again.  I don't even to have to listen to it to see that I can simply delete it.  That's almost as good as what you're looking for.


    I think that is probably your carrier that provides that. I get a transcription from my carrier and I am not aware of any Apple product. I to do find it handy -- but it would be really nice if I could read the email of the voicemail and the have it delete the email AND the voicemail that I still have to go to my phone for. BTW: I have a landline with VoIP that provides this but my iPhone carrier does not.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    The initial recordings took a month in 2005
    So before the iPhone even existed. Six years before Siri even launched. Strange. Makes you wonder what was basically finished before Steve died and what wasn’t...
  • Reply 16 of 20
    macguimacgui Posts: 900member
    tallest skil said:
    So before the iPhone even existed. Six years before Siri even launched. Strange. Makes you wonder what was basically finished before Steve died and what wasn’t...
    I've said many times that most people have no idea how long Apple has been working on a product before it ever hits the streets. There are more prototypes and products that ultimately never see the light of day, in Apple labs, than are dreamt of in kibitzers' imaginations.




  • Reply 17 of 20
    spice-boy said:

    She does not handle non English names well to say the least. 
    Interestingly this may be an American issue (I am taking liberties and assuming that you live in the States).

    I live in New Zealand and our country is full of Maori names including the town I live. I just tried Siri with "Lookup Hawera" (pronounced Ha-Where-Ra) and she nailed it. She did the same with Rotorua (Roto-Roo-Ah) and Whakatane (Fucka-Tar-Nay - hey blame the Maoris not me) and she nailed it each time.

    Basically most mistakes will be your fault not her's I'm afraid.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    The initial recordings took a month in 2005
    So before the iPhone even existed. Six years before Siri even launched. Strange. Makes you wonder what was basically finished before Steve died and what wasn’t...
    Possibly to avoid patent disputes Apple found it easier to buy the company than pay royalties... or the Siri company was a secret subsidiary of Apple and they just made it look like it was an external company that they bought for the technology.

    I personally like the idea of option two because it kind of sounds like something Apple would do.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    TuuborTuubor Posts: 25member
    The Finnish version of Siri is not nearly as well made as the English versions. She often sounds like a foreigner speaking our language. It also sounds like some of the recordings don't match in pace, pitch and tone. Then again if I use Google maps, the Finnish is just fine. 
  • Reply 20 of 20
    farmboyfarmboy Posts: 152member
    Tuubor said:
    The Finnish version of Siri is not nearly as well made as the English versions. She often sounds like a foreigner speaking our language. It also sounds like some of the recordings don't match in pace, pitch and tone. Then again if I use Google maps, the Finnish is just fine. 
    So...Suomi.


    tallest skil
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