Hear the new Siri voices

Madeleine Swain
6 February, 2014
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As we reported yesterday, Apple has released the latest beta of iOS 7.1 to developers and one of the notable features is a range of new voices for Siri.

Now, both Apple Insider and TUAW.com have published sound files of the new Siri voices in action. “The new voices — provided to AppleInsider by people familiar with the content of the update — compare favourably to their predecessors, lending Siri a more even tone and less stilted speech pattern. In keeping with Apple’s intention to allow some international users to choose Siri’s gender in iOS 7.1, both male and female voices were updated,” proclaims AppleInsider.

We, however, beg to differ. While the UK male and female voices come out sounding cool, calm and collected – not to mention authoritative (“What is the meaning of life?” “That’s easy. It’s a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general”) – the Australian sample files leave something to be desired.

The female voice is stilted, has a decidedly robotic twang and is apparently bereft of a sense of humour. When asked “tell me a joke”, she replies, “Let me think” before conceding, “Can’t think of one”. But perhaps Australian humour just doesn’t like to be put on the spot, preferring to flex its muscles on its own terms. Exhibit A: her reply to “What is the meaning of life?” “All evidence to date suggests it’s chocolate.”

The male Australian voice doesn’t sound too impressive either. When he gets asked the stock meaning of life question, his only response is “I give up”. What? Not even a 42? Or a Monty Python reference? That’s pretty pathetic, simulated Aussie man.

The other sound files released for your listening pleasure are the Japanese female and Japanese male. Not speaking the language, we’ll have to give both of them the benefit of the doubt, but they certainly sound more natural than the Australian duo, even when faced with the somewhat stereotypical question, “Where is the best place for sushi?”.

You can hear all the samples here.

And if you need further convincing that those US developers are still getting us confused with Austria or haven’t quite got their heads around Aussie idioms yet, consider this. When asked to “Tell me a joke”, the reply from ‘Australia male’ is: “If I told you a joke in my language, I’d have to explain it…” Fair dinkum.

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