And now, that perceived wrong has been righted.
Apple’s Siri is no longer an automatic woman.
The default for Apple’s mobile devices is changing. It will now allow consumers the choice – no default setting – when it comes to the voice with whom they’ll communicate.
The company announced iPhone and iPad users will be prompted to choose their preferred Siri voice during device setup.
In the old – very sexist – world, apparently, Apple provided no option in the U.S. for users’ preferred Siri voices: It was always a female voice.
Is America falling behind? Apple felt compelled to execute that default even though, for non-U.S. customers, it allows users a choice between a male and female voice as well as six accents including American, British, Indian and Irish.
And how about this? In some countries, the UK for one, Siri defaults to a male voice.
Apple will add two new voices to Siri.
“We’re excited to introduce two new Siri voices for English speakers and the option for Siri users to select the voice they want when they set up their device,” Apple said in a statement.
“This is a continuation of Apple’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion, and products and services that are designed to better reflect the diversity of the world we live in.”
Yeah, well, it’s about time.
The changes, available in Apple’s iOS 14.5 beta, will take effect when the software update rolls out more widely later in 2021.
While the tone of this story could be perceived as snarky, there is a real-life concern.
In 2019, a United Nations report warned these voice assistants perpetuate the idea that “women are obliging, docile and eager-to-please helpers, available at the touch of a button or with a blunt voice command.”
Change is good.