Siri’s German Voice Sounds More Human
Apple has upgraded Siri’s German voice to sound more natural, according to a report from iphone-ticker.de. The German speech update comes three years after Apple improved Siri’s English speaking voice in a similar way during the iOS 11 launch.
According to many Germans, Siri is now speaking in a more fluid, relaxed manner closer to the way people speak than the previous, robotic tones used by the voice assistant. While the improvements are subtle, Siri’s inflection and pronunciation are more natural-sounding. The reports about the change started this week, but there’s been no official update announced by Apple.
The U.S. English update for Siri’s voice, which was announced at WWDC 2017, used deep learning to teach the voice assistant to better mimic the rhythms and style of human speech patterns. The voice assistant got another boost in friendliness last year when Apple announced that it was using Neural Text-To-Speech software to make Siri sound even more human. Apple applied similar technology to improving Siri’s British and Australian English voices in an update a little over a year ago and it’s likely how Apple smoothed out Siri’s German voice too.
People prefer their voice assistants to imitate their conversational style. Apple researchers have found that voice assistants who mirror their users are considered more trustworthy and likable, so it’s logical that Apple and other voice assistant developers keep improving the way the AI speaks. Usually, they trumpet their improvements, which makes the quiet improvement of Siri’s German stand out. Possibly it’s a pilot program or the update isn’t completely finished, but it’s almost certainly on Apple’s roadmap for Siri.
This isn’t Apple’s only recent move in this regard. The tech giant recently acquired Irish AI startup Voysis, whose platform incorporates voice interactions for and could be useful for helping Siri understand what people are saying used to improve how well Apple’s Siri voice assistant understands what people say. Making Siri more responsive and able to carry on conversations opens up a lot of applications, but people won’t want to have those conversations if Siri’s voice sounds too unnatural. The voice assistant has some ground to make up, regardless of the language. A recent University of Waterloo study found that consumers describe Siri as disingenuous and cunning. Those aren’t the adjectives Apple wants people to associate with its voice assistant. Incremental improvements like the German update are probably necessary if Siri is going to compete with rivals like Alexa, whom the study participants called genuine and caring.