Siri gets two new voices, user choice at setup in iOS 14.5

Posted:
in iOS edited March 31
Apple has introduced two new English voice options for Siri and will no longer default to a female voice at setup.

Siri has two new voice options
Siri has two new voice options


Siri is Apple's smart voice assistant that uses machine learning to address user queries. Apple has updated Siri over the years with more language and voice options, but Wednesday's update addresses the bias towards using women as assistants.





According to TechCrunch, Apple is adding two new voice options to Siri and asking users to choose their preferred voice at setup. The new approach eliminates the inherent bias of having a female voice by default and instead asks users to choose.

Previously, users would need to navigate to Siri settings to change the voice. They would be presented with a list of accents and choose between "male" and "female" varieties. Now, users will be presented with "voice 1" or "voice 2" rather than gendered labels. The American Voice 4 is the Siri voice we've all become accustomed to.

Old Siri menu on iPhone (left) versus new Siri menu on iPad (right)
Old Siri menu on iPhone (left) versus new Siri menu on iPad (right)


"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," said Apple in a statement to TechCrunch. "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."

Siri uses voice actors and Neural Text To Speech (Neural TTS) to produce a voice that sounds natural. Since Neural TTS was introduced in iOS 13, it has become available in 38 voices across 21 languages. The update will also bring Neural TTS to Siri voices in Ireland, Russia, and Italy.

The two new voices are available in Apple's latest iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 betas. The public release of the operating system updates is expected to release in the coming weeks.

Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider," and you'll get latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for "AppleInsider Daily" instead and you'll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you're interested in Apple-centric home automation, say "Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider," and you'll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15
    MisterKitMisterKit Posts: 413member
    Good move Apple.
    repressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 15
    tobiantobian Posts: 106member
    I’ve always been pouring hot water when it comes to Siri, but just recently, I found myself in serious need of voice-controlled assistant service for my new job.. so,trying Siri in many new ways.. and so my disappointment grows. Siri is terrible in my opinion. Looking backward to Apple keynotes, Siri is able to interact usefuly only in few areas Apple prescripted and showed off.
    What is Siri good at, is making various pardons when I’m annoyed by it’s primitivity.
    patchythepirate
  • Reply 3 of 15
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 550member
    Agreed. It makes you wonder exactly what John Giannandrea and co. have been doing for the last 3 years…and whether we, as consumers, will ever actually get to reap the benefits. 

    I just want my Siri’s voice to sound like Mooncake. Can someone make that happen?
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 15
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,076member
    They keep tinkering with the voices and adding tiny inconsequential features to Siri that only work when you word the request exactly as is shown in marketing, and which don't make a material difference in the overall quality of Siri. As far as dictation goes, the recognition of the words is generally pretty good, though more context sensitivity (or understanding of the sentence) around words which have similar sound but different spellings or are different words entirely would be, well, something that at least reaches the standard Alexa is at. Because right now when dictating, Siri frequently mishears and the resulting sentence makes no sense. I might say "its foggy here tonight" and Siri will hear "it's doggy here tonight" which is very unlikely.

    That is of course aside from Siri's "intelligence" which is comparable to that of a brick. It would be better to remove Siri's "intelligence" entirely, and have hard-coded a list of things it can do, and a list of these somewhere with the specific way to say them. Because if you don't word the request exactly right it just doesn't understand or does something completely wrong. Mac OS 9's speakable items was more reliable and predictable than Siri - this is one of the rare times I say I bet it wouldn't be the same if Jobs was alive.

    Another example, I regularly ask Siri to call "dad". At least 1/3 of the time it asks if I meant Dan amongst a couple of others, who I haven't phoned for about 5 years. My dad is missing from the list entirely. What are the lauded neural engines being used for if Siri can't even learn that I call "dad" more often than the others, despite repeatedly choosing something other than what it suggests? Great, photos are 1% less grainy through AI but yet Siri is still 50% wrong.
    tobianmuthuk_vanalingampatchythepirateJanNL
  • Reply 5 of 15
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,340member
    I don't ask anything special out of Siri -- play that album or song or podcast, what's the weather, how far to x, send a message to x, remind me to do x, Add [event] to my [type] calendar, that sort of thing -- and it does it all just fine, with no issues. I do find that certain tricky things -- the sort of thing no other vocal assistant can do either -- requires me to either enunciate more or spell out a particular term, but once I figure out the wording that works, it continues to work.

    As for Elijahg, have you tried establishing your relationship with your father in Contacts? I did that with my sister and brother (my father is no longer living) and instantly Siri understood "call my sister" et al. While the default for that relationship would be "father," you can give him a custom label in the "related name" field to "Dad," and then it should work to say "call Dad" -- though if you have several Dans in your directory, I would be sure to pronounce that last D in "Dad." You might also try giving him the nickname of "Dad," that might improve your results as well.

    Try it out!
    edited March 31 Rayz2016mike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 15
    The new female voice sounds like an African American. I hope I’m right. Would be pretty cool. 
  • Reply 7 of 15
    The new female voice sounds like an African American. I hope I’m right. Would be pretty cool. 
    Why are you assuming gender?? Just bc the voice sounds female they could identify as male, or an octopus. So patriarchal of you. 
    JanNLmike1elijahgrepressthis
  • Reply 8 of 15
    chasm said:
    I don't ask anything special out of Siri -- play that album or song or podcast, what's the weather, how far to x, send a message to x, remind me to do x, Add [event] to my [type] calendar, that sort of thing -- and it does it all just fine, with no issues. I do find that certain tricky things -- the sort of thing no other vocal assistant can do either -- requires me to either enunciate more or spell out a particular term, but once I figure out the wording that works, it continues to work.

    As for Elijahg, have you tried establishing your relationship with your father in Contacts? I did that with my sister and brother (my father is no longer living) and instantly Siri understood "call my sister" et al. While the default for that relationship would be "father," you can give him a custom label in the "related name" field to "Dad," and then it should work to say "call Dad" -- though if you have several Dans in your directory, I would be sure to pronounce that last D in "Dad." You might also try giving him the nickname of "Dad," that might improve your results as well.

    Try it out!
    I had a similar issue. My mom changed her name to her actual name, and I got the option to accept her updated profile with her actual name, but Siri no longer recognized when I said “call mom.” I think Siri finally learned after 6 months or so though. Not sure why it took so long. Now, the brilliant thing Siri does is tell me “this could be _____, or 3 other people.” What the fuck is that? Who are the 3 other people that could be calling me from a specific number? Siri is a joke. Can’t even give more than one command at a time after over 10 gd years in development. I don’t trust it to do anything other than basic, rote tasks, and even with that it’s not great. Apple keeps adding “knowledge” and other bs without improving the core functionality much at all. It’s been obvious that this is a problem for so long, but Apple can’t be bothered to give a shit about their services apparently. How does eddy cue still have his gd job after screwing up Apple services consistently for over a decade??? How many billions have these ongoing bumbles cost Apple? How much has the brand and credibility suffered bc of apples crap services? Why hasn’t anything changed in over 10 years?
    elijahg
  • Reply 9 of 15
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,909member
    The new female voice sounds like an African American. I hope I’m right. Would be pretty cool. 
    Why are you assuming gender?? Just bc the voice sounds female they could identify as male, or an octopus. So patriarchal of you. 

    Yep you went there.

    This is just going to end badly for some people, if the general assumption is to think having a voice as female has some sort of bias, and there are these generic voices and people hear what someone selected as their preferred voice, others will just think bias things about the person’s choice. 

    i do not know about others, I personally never heard someone’s Siri voice other than the default, I do not think most people think that much about what voice to use it’s just Siri, I never heard anyone same the female Siri.

    When I used a TomTom for navigation they gave you different voices to choose from like Arnold or Austin Powers, Waze also did it as well until Google took it over, at first it was fun playing with the different voices but become boring pretty quick, 
    georgie01
  • Reply 10 of 15
    sbdudesbdude Posts: 45member
    I would prefer that they make Siri actually work better, or do more, but there are more important things to do.
    edited April 1 marklarkOnPartyBusiness
  • Reply 11 of 15
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,598member
    maestro64 said:
    The new female voice sounds like an African American. I hope I’m right. Would be pretty cool. 
    Why are you assuming gender?? Just bc the voice sounds female they could identify as male, or an octopus. So patriarchal of you. 

    Yep you went there.

    This is just going to end badly for some people, if the general assumption is to think having a voice as female has some sort of bias, and there are these generic voices and people hear what someone selected as their preferred voice, others will just think bias things about the person’s choice. 

    i do not know about others, I personally never heard someone’s Siri voice other than the default, I do not think most people think that much about what voice to use it’s just Siri, I never heard anyone same the female Siri.

    When I used a TomTom for navigation they gave you different voices to choose from like Arnold or Austin Powers, Waze also did it as well until Google took it over, at first it was fun playing with the different voices but become boring pretty quick, 
    I can get that making the default a female voice might reflect a bias that only women are assistants, so making someone choose their default voice seems OK.
    However, declining to label the voices as male or female is just odd. You can call out nationalities but not gender?

    As an aside, my mother (in the US) uses the male voice with the Australian accent because she thinks he sounds hot.

    elijahgrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 15
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,909member
    mike1 said:
    maestro64 said:
    The new female voice sounds like an African American. I hope I’m right. Would be pretty cool. 
    Why are you assuming gender?? Just bc the voice sounds female they could identify as male, or an octopus. So patriarchal of you. 

    Yep you went there.

    This is just going to end badly for some people, if the general assumption is to think having a voice as female has some sort of bias, and there are these generic voices and people hear what someone selected as their preferred voice, others will just think bias things about the person’s choice. 

    i do not know about others, I personally never heard someone’s Siri voice other than the default, I do not think most people think that much about what voice to use it’s just Siri, I never heard anyone same the female Siri.

    When I used a TomTom for navigation they gave you different voices to choose from like Arnold or Austin Powers, Waze also did it as well until Google took it over, at first it was fun playing with the different voices but become boring pretty quick, 
    I can get that making the default a female voice might reflect a bias that only women are assistants, so making someone choose their default voice seems OK.
    However, declining to label the voices as male or female is just odd. You can call out nationalities but not gender?

    As an aside, my mother (in the US) uses the male voice with the Australian accent because she thinks he sounds hot.

    Or the other way of thinking about a female voice, if you need to get something done right you ask a women. For every negative way you could view something there is positive way to look at it. It is the glass half full or empty challenge and all we are hearing from are those who see the world as half empty and things are bad.

    This is all about chasing ghosts, they trying to say we all have some sort of bias drives ever single action we do whether we know it is there or now. I know if have bias its against stupid people, but my fault is the fact I assume first people are smart until they provide me wrong and I treat as stupid person.
    elijahgrepressthis
  • Reply 13 of 15
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,076member
    maestro64 said:
    The new female voice sounds like an African American. I hope I’m right. Would be pretty cool. 
    Why are you assuming gender?? Just bc the voice sounds female they could identify as male, or an octopus. So patriarchal of you. 

    Progressives seem to want to both remove the concept of negative stereotypical female gender associations, like women being "assistants", but have no issue with male stereotypes such as aggression or association with violence. But that's progressive "equality". In this instance it's just stupid though because there is both a male and female assistant, and does Apple think by removing the name people somehow won't associate the female voice with women and the male voice with men? Again trying to remove the concept of male and female, which is biologically impossible and just stupid.
    patchythepirategeorgie01Japheytobian
  • Reply 14 of 15
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 378member
    A solution in search of a problem. Apart from a tiny minority of extremists, who out there was really suffering in emotional pain because they weren’t given the option to choose to not have a female voice by default while hypocritically not wanting to actually acknowledge the gender of their Siri voice?

    It’s literally absurd, and I’m surprised Apple has become so unthinking in their attempt to be ‘woke’. There’s nothing sexist about having a female voice by default—female voices are generally more pleasant to listen to than equivalent male voices, and we should celebrate differences instead of trying to eliminate them.
    watto_cobraelijahg
  • Reply 15 of 15
    Often the terms gender and $ex get mixed up. There’s generally no harm in identifying someone’s $ex. The voice actor that is the original Siri could be born a female, that’s an objective truth. Her $ex is female, but she might identify her gender as non-binary or any other gender expression.  
Sign In or Register to comment.