For as long as Apple has offered Siri, the digital assistant has defaulted to a female voice in North America. That’s about to change. With the latest iOS 14.5 beta, TechCrunch reports Apple is introducing two English-speaking voices for Siri and making it so that you can pick the voice you like best when setting up an iOS or HomePod device.
“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 told the publication. “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 recruited new talent for the two voices and then ran them through its Neural text to speech engine. They apparently sound more natural, with better inflection and smoother transitions between different words. Those aren’t the only Siri-related improvements coming with iOS 14.5. With the latest beta, Siri voices in Ireland, Italy and Russia have gotten the neural text to speech treatment. With that change, 38 out of the digital assistant’s voices now take advantage of the technology.
Per MacRumors, today’s developer beta also includes a feature for recalibrating the battery on iPhone 11 models. Apple designed the tool to address inaccurate battery health estimates that some iPhone 11 owners have reported. In some instances, Apple notes the procedure won’t work, with affected iPhones displaying a notification that you should get your battery serviced. In those cases, the company says it will complete the repair for free.
All in all, iOS 14.5 is shaping to be a significant upgrade for Apple’s mobile operating system, with one of the more notable changes being the cross-app and site tracking permissions the company plans to enforce. Apple will release iOS 14.5 later this spring.