Your iPhone Can Clone Your VoiceReading Time: 3 minutes
Apple’s new AI-powered feature lets you use your own voice in place of Siri.
Do you think you could do a better job as a personal digital assistant than Siri? Now you can put it to the test: Personal Voice is a new accessibility feature in Apple’s iOS 17 that uses AI to clone your voice then integrates it with iOS’s Live Speech system to let you ‘speak’ through Apple and third-party apps.
I can think of any number of frivolous uses for this technology, but Personal Voice is more than a gimmicky way to annoy others. According to Apple, the feature will allow ‘users at risk of losing their ability to speak to create a voice that sounds like them.’ So anyone in the early stages of ALS or who has other vocal cord problems will be able to keep their voices (in a sense). (The late movie critic Roger Ebert tested out a rudimentary form of this technology more than a decade ago and his wife’s reaction to hearing him speak again after cancer robbed him of his voice speaks loudly enough as to how meaningful an advancement this really is.)
Even if you aren’t in immediate risk of losing your voice, you never know what life will bring, so you might as well get started while you can still speak clearly.
The ‘active’ part of setting up Personal Voice on your iPhone probably won’t take more than half an hour, but it requires several hours of passive, processing time where you won’t be able to use your device at all, so maybe wait until before you go to sleep to follow these steps:
- Install iOS 17: Personal Voice will be added to your phone when the iOS 17 update drops in September, but you can early-adopt now by installing the public beta version. Open your phone and go to: Settings > General > Software Update > Beta Updates and choose the iOS 17 public beta.
- Once the update is complete, open Settings.
- Tap ‘Accessibility,’ scroll down to ‘Personal Voice’ and tap ‘Create a Personal Voice. ‘ Choose a name for your Personal Voice and tap ‘OK.’
- You’ll be prompted to check the sound quality. Once that’s sorted out, you’ll be asked to read around 150 lines of text, which could take up to 30 minutes.
- When you’re finished reading your lines, you’ll need to leave your phone locked and attached to power while the AI does its thing. Why not have a banana? It could take up to 10 hours.
- You might need to reboot to make sure everything is in order.
Once your digital, aural likeness is in place, navigate to Settings > Siri & Search > Siri Voice and you should see the voice you’ve saved next to Apple’s generic options. Tap it and you can ask finally ask yourself what the weather will be like, and to please text Gary.
You should be able to use your own voice in just about any voice-based application on your iPhone or iPad. You’ll be able to read text in FaceTime and regular calls with your own voice using iOS 17’s Live Speech function, or have your phone read your text out loud in real life so you don’t have to actually speak to the people at the grocery store.
You could use it to read webpages to yourself, or use your own voice to read various AI apps’ output to finally get an answer when you talk to yourself. As a prank, you could substitute your own voice on someone else’s phone so you can yell at them even when you’re not there. More poignantly, you could use it to save the voice of a loved one so you can still talk to them after they’re gone.
There are endless possibilities for Personal Voice—as long as you speak English. Right now, the feature is not available for any other languages.
I can imagine nightmare scenarios where scammers download my voice without my permission and use it call my mom and ask for money for bail or something. Apple maintains that the ‘speech accessibility feature uses on-device machine learning to keep users’ information private and secure,’ though. We’ll have to take their word for it.
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