Apple product users will be asked to choose their preferred voice, male or female, from four choices when they set up Siri in iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5, coming this spring. The company will also add two new English language voices to its Siri voice assistant at that time, the company said on Wednesday.
Users will be able to choose from four voices for Siri, which will no longer default to a female voice in the U.S.
Digital assistants with default female voices have been scrutinized by researchers in recent years, with critics saying the choices reflect a male-dominated artificial intelligence industry and reinforce stereotypes.
“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,” an Apple spokesperson said 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.”
Apple previously offered male voices as the default in some regions, as well as Australian and British accents, but it has defaulted to a woman’s voice in the U.S. since its release in 2011.
MacDailyNews Take: It’s highly likely that a future macOS update will also ask users upfront to choose their preferred Siri voice, male or female, too.
Susan Bennett was the original voice of Siri: