Apple just released the sixth beta for iOS 14.5. With the sixth beta, the Cupertino-based giant has introduced several notable changes to Siri, including the addition of two more voices apart from the default female voice. Apple has said that Siri will no longer default to a female voice and is adding two more options to choose from. This also applies to the HomePod smart speakers. This change, according to Apple, is part of the company’s 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. 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,” Apple was quoted by TechCrunch as saying in the statement.
The TechCrunch report says that Apple will use source talent recordings for the two new voices that are then run through Apple’s Neural text to speech engine, making the voices flow more organically through phrases that are actually being generated on the fly. The new voices are available to English-speaking users around the world and users can select a personal preference of voice in 16 languages. Additionally, iOS 14.5’s sixth beta also makes improvements to Siri voices in Ireland, Russia, and Italy, upgrading them to Neural text to speech.
This means that starting with iOS 14.5, users will be prompted to choose a voice assistant themselves for the first time. The TechCrunch report states that Siri now handles 25 billion requests per month on over 500 million devices and supports 21 languages in 36 countries.