Apple users will soon have the option of choosing a different voice for Siri. The tech company announced Monday (April 26) that its latest software update has “more diverse Siri voice options.”
“With iOS 14.5, Siri no longer has a default voice, allowing users to choose the voice that speaks to them when they first set up their device, and in English, users can now select more diverse voice options," the company said in a statement.
The update has four voice options and also gives more capabilities for Siri including announcing calls through AirPods, starting Group FaceTime calls just by stating the name of a group in your text messages.
The tech company said adding the voice options is a part of its “long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion, with products and services that are designed to better reflect our customers and the world.”
Apple didn’t identify explicitly that the new voice options include Black voices, but two in particular are resonating with Black Apple users, who’ve identified them as being African American voices.
“One [of the voices] stopped me in my tracks,” Jason Allen, a public relations manager told Consumer Reports, after he heard a recording of the new Siri voices on social media. “A young Black voice owning that role in a lot of people’s homes is incredibly powerful,” Allen said. “It says that Black identity and African American identity have value, have legitimacy, and can be trusted here as a partner in searching for information.”
Much like facial recognition software that incorrectly identifies Black people more often than other groups, voice software often has a hard time understanding Black people. A study released by Stanford University last year found that Black people were twice as likely to be misunderstood compared to white people.
The Apple update also includes more skin color options for couple emojis and more privacy controls. iPhone users can also unlock their phone with a mask on with the latest software.
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