Apple’s latest iOS beta comes with a rather surprising change: Siri is no longer a woman by default. Instead, Apple has created new voting options and you choose male or female during setup. The new voices sound even more natural than before, and you even get a southern draw.
The news comes from TechCrunch who first noticed the change in the latest beta. Apple confirmed its intentions in a statement to the outlet:
We are excited to introduce two new Siri voices for English speakers and the option for Siri users to select the voice they want when setting up their device. This is a continuation of Apple̵
Here’s a recording of Siri’s new batch of US voices in iOS 14.5. Voices 1 and 4 are the existing ones, voices 2 and 3 are the new ones. pic.twitter.com/6emei4B3Z9
– John Gruber (@gruber) April 1, 2021
Siri has switched to a female voice by default since its introduction in 2011. And while Apple wasn’t the first company to use a female voice by default (GPS systems usually made the first choice, too), others continued the trend from Google Assistant to Alexa, until even Cortana until that assistant died.
To our knowledge, this is the first major digital assistant to distance themselves from a female voice by default. You can still choose that if you want, but in the future, it’s your choice when you set up Siri for the first time. Apple doesn’t assume what’s best for you (which is rare in itself).
Of course, this is just a beta for now and everything can change. Apple may decide to return to the status quo. But for those concerned about the default choice of female voices for digital assistants, it’s a good sign.