Apple working on ‘framework’ for custom Siri voices

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Siri Alexa in voice report
A different voice?
Photo: Apple

It’s hard to imagine not hearing that voice. So smart, so reassuring, so — Siri.

That familiar iOS voice isn’t going anywhere, but a report claims Apple is working on a “software framework” to give developers custom voice synthesizers.

MacRumors, citing an unnamed source Tuesday, said the software is called VoiceProvider. The voice synthesizers would be bundled with apps and could allow users to replace the iOS default voice, the tech website said.

This could prove useful with languages and dialects Apple does not support, according to MacRumors, though how is not clear. Voice synthesizers also could allow users to add the voices of celebrities, possibly chosen from a menu inside an app.

MacRumors wrote just three paragraphs, so it remains unclear if a user could replace Siri’s voice entirely or if it would just be an option within certain apps or commands. The website said the framework is in the early stages of development. VoiceProvider could eventually extend to an API for HomePod.

New Siri voices coming in SiriOS?

Venture capital firm Mangrove Capital Partners last July predicted Apple will launch a SiriOS at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference. However, there have been few reports since to support this prediction. As of Tuesday, Apple has not said if it will cancel WWDC 2020 or present it online because of the spreading COVID-19 coronavirus.

Siri launched as a stand-alone application for iOS in 2011. Since then, Apple developed Siri to work across all of its operating systems, from iPhone to Apple TV. Currently, Apple limits Siri voice customization to selecting an accent/region and whether you want to hear a male or female voice. You can find some Siri hacks online, though.

Voice actress Susan Bennett became the first voice of Siri for users in the United States. Though Apple changed the voice with iOS 7, Bennett’s voice remains embedded in the ears of pop culture.