As part of today’s release of iOS 14.5 beta 6, Apple is making several notable changes to Siri. The company says that Siri will no longer default to a female voice starting with iOS 14.5, and it’s adding two additional voice options from which to choose. The changes also apply to the HomePod.
As reported first by TechCrunch, Apple says this change is part of its ongoing commitment to diversity:
“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,” a statement from Apple reads. “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 report goes to explain that the new voices use “source talent recordings that are then run through Apple’s Neural text to speech engine.” This allows the voices to “flow more organically,” even when phrases are being generated on the fly. The new voices are available in English-speaking countries.
This means that starting with iOS 14.5, users will be prompted to choose a voice assistant themselves for the first time. We’re still updating our devices and will report back when we’ve had an opportunity to try this out.
Additionally, iOS 14.5 beta 6 also makes improvements to the Siri voices in Ireland, Russia, and Italy, upgrading them to neural text to speech. This means that 38 voices are now using this new technology. “Siri now handles 25 billion requests on over 500M devices and supports 21 languages in 36 countries,” the report says.
If you spot any changes in the iOS 14.5 beta, or the other new releases from Apple today, let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @9to5Mac. Stay tuned for our full hands-on coverage with the new releases right here at 9to5Mac today.
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