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Apple to Launch Gender-Neutral Siri, Wants to Create More ‘Personalized’ Experiences

The company stopped making Siri's voice female by default in 2021


Apple will include a gender-neutral voice for Siri in its next operating system update.

As part of iOS 15.4, the company will include a voice option for its virtual assistant that is neither female nor male. Apple ended its practice of having an exclusively female voice for Siri in 2021.

The company said the new voice — titled “Voice 5” — was recorded by an LGBTQ+ person but declined to give any other specific information. Unconfirmed reports online say the voice will ultimately be called “Quinn.”

“We’re excited to introduce a new Siri voice for English speakers, giving users more options to choose a voice that speaks to them,” Apple told Axios. “Millions of people around the world rely on Siri every day to help get things done, so we work to make the experience feel as personalized as possible.”

In efforts to boost diversity” in 2021, the technology company “added two new Black voices with American accents for the digital assistant,” reports CNET. “Currently, Siri’s English-language choices include British, American, Irish, Indian, Australian and South African accents.”

According to Voicebot.ai, Siri’s one update has “improved its speech recognition and understanding, learning new topics, words, and contact names. The AI’s upgraded understanding of context means it will know who or what is being asked about based on what’s on the screen.”

The latest operating system will roll out in the spring of 2022. In addition to the updated Siri voice, it will include security fixes, Face ID updates, and new emojis, including a pregnant man.

In 2019, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the EQUAL Skills Coalition published a report detailing the ”troubling repercussions” of “gendered” Artificial Intelligence. The organizations denounced the practice of making virtual assistants female because it “carries a risk of spreading problematic gender stereotypes and regularizing one-sided, command-based verbal exchanges with women.”

The report argued there is a connection between “the roots of feminized and sexualized virtual assistants [and] the limited participation of women in technology development teams.”

Apple reported in 2021 that 34% of its employees were women, marking a 4% increase since 2014. The company noted that 42% of its new hires since 2018 have been women and that 49% of its leadership roles were held by women.

In its Feb. 24 statement, Apple did not say if gender-neutral voices will eventually be made available for non-English users.

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