Siri gets new voices, and won’t default to female, in iOS 14.5

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Apple’s AI-driven voice-controlled digital assistant Siri
Siri just became more gender fluid.
Image: Apple

After almost a decade of using a female voice by default, Siri users will be given a choice of voices for the virtual assistant when they set up Apple devices. The virtual assistant will also come with two new English-language voices.

These changes debuted in iOS 14.5 beta 6 and the iPads equivalent, which Apple seeded to developers Wednesday.

Siri is gender-fluid

Users have had the option for years to change Siri’s voice from female to males for years. The new change happening is that iPhone, iPad and Mac will ask users when setting up what voice to use, and no longer make the voice assistant female by default.

The additional voices for American English are intended to sound a bit less mechanical than previous options for Siri. There are male and female versions, and the previous Siri voices are still available.

Apple gave a statement to about the change to TechCrunch.

“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,” Apple said. “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.”

Cult of Mac listened to the new voices and they sound marginally more “human.” But it’s not a dramatic change because Apple has improved the way Siri sounds.

New features in iOS 14.5

This is the only significant change in iOS 14.5 beta 6 and iPadOS 14.5 beta 6. It comes as something of a surprise, though. Apple usually doesn’t add major new features so late in the beta process. Testing for the upcoming iPhone and iPad upgrade began on February 4. The public launch of iOS 14.5 and the iPad equivalent could be in April.

Especially as there are already plenty of new features in the next versions. The iOS one enables user to unlock their iPhone with an Apple Watch, and both let users share lyrics from Apple Music. There are new emoji. And behind the scenes, iOS 14.5 makes zero-click iPhone attacks even more difficult.

At present, iOS 14.5 beta 6 as well as iPadOS 14.5 beta 6 are only for developers. But, if Apple follows its previous habits, public beta versions will follow soon. In the meantime, getting access to the latest pre-release editions requires joining the Apple Developer Program, which costs $99 a year.