Apple announces virtual shutdown of female sound in Siri service

Apple currently allows users to choose between male and female voices, as well as six different accents, including American, British, Indian and Irish, but it penetrates the feminine voice of American devices. (In some countries, such as the UK, Siri responses are determined by default with a male voice.)

Apple also said it would add two new voices to Siri.

The company added in a statement: “We are excited to introduce a new Siri audio to English speakers and an option for Siri users to choose the sound they want when setting up their devices. This is a continuation of Apple’s long-term commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, products and services designed to better reflect the diversity of the world we live in.”

The changes made to Siri are already available in Apple’s iOS 14.5 trial version, and will become effective for those who are setting up a new Apple device when the software update is released more widely later this year.

Gender stereotypes among voice assistants such as Siri and Alexa at Amazon and Google Assistant have long been a concern.

In 2019, a UN report warned that voice assistants were perpetuating the idea that “women are amalgamated, obedient and eager to please them, available at the touch of a button or by rude voice.”

Most voice assistant services still tend to be feminine, although users have the option to switch.

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