Apple has introduced two new English voice options for Siri and will no longer default to a female voice at setup.
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.
“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.
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