While Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa have moved forward, Siri hasn’t been developed much in the past few years. However, Apple is still committed to its voice assistant. The company is adding two new voices to Siri’s English offerings. It is also eliminating the default “female voice” selection. Both of these developments are now available in the latest beta version of iOS.
Apple will now allow people setting up their phone to choose a voice for Siri for themselves, and it will no longer default to the voice assistant being female. It seems like Siri is the first mainstream voice assistant to make the choice completely agnostic with no default selection made. This is a positive step forward as it will not allow default bias. These new voices are available to English-speaking users around the world, and the users can select a personal preference of voice in 16 languages.
Coming to the two new voices, these offer more diversity in speech sound and pattern to a user picking a voice that speaks to them. These voices use source talent recordings, which are run through Apple’s Neural text to speech engine. It makes the voices flow more organically through phrases.
“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. “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.”
The latest beta also upgrades Siri voices in Russia, Ireland, and Italy to Neural TTS. This brings the total voices using the new tech to 38. It is said that Siri handles 25 billion requests per month on over 500 million devices. The assistant supports 21 languages in 36 countries.