My friend was interacting with Siri on his phone and I noticed “she” was actually a male voice. Neat! Is that some sort of hack or can I actually change Siri’s voice?
By default, Siri has a female voice. In fact, not just any female voice, but voice actor Susan Bennett. Imagine having her as a friend: every time you talked to her you’d suspect that you’re actually talking to an AI ‘bot! Computer voices, however, are assembled from intonations, phonemes and other elements, so just about every modern voice system now supports multiple accents and languages. Siri is no different, offering male and female voices with a number of different regional accents.
Where Apple really shines in iOS 11, however, are all the voices and accent variations for the assistive dictation technology. There are not only a ton of ’em, but they have names too, and interesting names at that like Maged, Melina, Carmit, Lekha and Ting-Ting. But let’s start by having a look at the easier task of changing your Siri name. Oh, and for the record, I alternate between British and Australian female for my Siri. Makes the weather forecast seem just a bit more sophisticated.
To start out, just jump into the Settings app on your iPhone and drag down to reveal the search box. Then simply type in “siri voice”:
As you can see, the only match is the exact spot in the settings app that is related to the Siri voice settings, in Siri & Search. Easy enough. Tap on it to proceed and you’ll be bumped straight to the following screen:
There ya go, all the major voice settings and options for Siri in iOS 11: male or female, and American, Australian or British accents. Tap to try a few – and then ask “hey Siri, what’s the weather” to get a good demo of each. Nice to have some options!
Now, while we’re at it, if you ever use the assistive technology that lets your phone read out passages of text to you, you’ll love all the zillions of different voice options in this area of iOS 11. To get there, go back to the main Settings screen and this time search for ‘speech’:
You’ll want to tap on the “General > Accessibility > VoiceOver” option which won’t quite get you exactly to the right place, but it’ll just be one more tap: On the resultant screen find “Speech” and tap on it. Now you’ll be looking at the VoiceOver settings, which look like this:
These settings – particularly Speaking Rate! – make a huge difference in the quality of the output voice, but it’s the “Voices” option you want to tap so you can see and hear just how many different options there are! Tap on “Voices” and…
What’s even more impressive is that these are just the default voices for each of these languages. Choose a particular language like English and tap on it to reveal that there are even more options than just Karen (Enhanced):
But wait, there’s more! Swipe down and you’ll find out that in addition to the US American accents and voices shown in the English (US) section, there are more options!
Any that have a cloud icon are voices that need to download some data to be available on your device, and almost all of them have the small download vs big download option too. The bigger download is “Enhanced” and is supposed to sound better. Honestly, Australian and English sound surprisingly good to my ear, but I was quite disappointed with Moira, the Irish accent. Try a few, see what you think.
Now to have all these options for Siri and to have Siri smart enough to switch languages as needed so reading out a mixed language text message, for example, isn’t an exercise in tortured pronunciation!
Pro Tip: While you’re here, please check out our extensive iOS 11 and iPhone help area. Tons of useful tutorials!