Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

Summary: Apple reportedly spoke to Siri's UK voice-over artist, who didn't even know he was, and asked him to 'keep quiet' about its secrets.

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TOPICS: Telcos, Apple
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Apple is known for its secrecy. None more so than Siri, the voice-activated intelligent assistant, seen to many as a deal-breaker for those who decided to upgrade to the iPhone 4S.

Siri's UK voice is known as 'Daniel', but Daniel's real name happens to be Jon Briggs, a former journalist who 'fell' into voice-over work.

But the tale begins when his voice-over work with a company called Scansoft, subsequently merged with Nuance -- the company that Apple worked with to provide make Siri vocal.

Apple officials told Briggs not to discuss Siri, shortly after the iPhone 4S launch, noting that the company is "not about one person". But claiming that his voice-over work holds no contractual obligation to Apple, the company has since not been back in touch with him.

Source: Gizmodo)

Speaking to the Telegraph, Briggs said:

"I did a set of recordings with Scansoft five or six years ago, for text-to-speech services. Five thousand sentences over three weeks, spoken in a very particular way and only reading flat and even. Then they go away and take all the phonics apart, because I have to be able to read anything you want, even if I’ve never actually recorded all those words."

The result was "as close to human speech" than anything else that is out there.

He first discovered that Apple used his voice in the Siri assistant when he saw a demo of the phone on television. Stating that he not only was well paid for the job and thinks Siri could be a "game-changer", he does not feel bitter about the secrecy deal.

But Apple did not want Briggs to talk about the process behind the voice-over work -- though nevertheless recorded at a time when Siri was probably not even conceived of.

Many of those in the UK will know the voice from The Weakest Link, which subsequently moved to the United States after many successful series'. His flat, semi-monotone voice which is devoid of most inflections went on to become Siri's only voice for UK markets.

As Briggs explained: "You're not allowed to license the voice to make money", the same voice used by many, including the British Computer Association for the Blind, and London's King's Cross railway station's tannoy voice, adding: "So Apple's Siri is part of the service once you've bought the phone".

No word on why Siri doesn't understand Scottish, though. The Scots will just have to wait their turn.

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Topics: Telcos, Apple

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15 comments
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  • Um DUH!

    Not sure how or why this would surprise anyone but for as long as I can recall business of every sort keep secrets like say a "secret sauce" or maybe "an ancient Chinese secret". I would expect Apple in the case of SIRI to do something like this.

    Pagan Jim
    James Quinn
    • I imagine it's more to keep the interest away from

      @James Quinn
      Jon Briggs, and instead on Apple, hence the [i]noting that the company is ???not about one person"[/i].

      It trivializes the entire mystique of Siri, as you can now see there's really a man "behind the curtain".
      William Farrell
      • RE: Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

        @William Farrell

        Yes, there is Briggs sitting in the voice over booth answering all the questions from the iPhone 4 users. Not so magic after all.
        richardw66
  • Apple sure does throw its weight around

    Apple is threatening the contractor of a company that was later merged with another company that licensed a technology to another company that Apple later purchased?<br><br>I know what my response to Apple's legal team would be.
    toddybottom
    • RE: Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

      @toddybottom Yeah, what would that be? The path is irrelevant. Contracts don't become void just because their rights were transfered. And let me guess, just because you have a response, that's what's going to happen? HA. Have a response for the next time you get a ticket. Let's just see how important you really are :)
      RidgebackJim
      • RE: Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

        @RidgebackJim What contract? There isn't one.
        moose7710
      • RE: Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

        @RidgebackJim And you cannot alter them either without both parties agreeing
        mrlinux
  • RE: Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

    [i]No word on why Siri doesn???t understand Scottish, though.[/i]

    They're saying it wrong.....
    Badgered
    • RE: Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

      @Badgered

      Actually they're holding it wrong when they say it... :)
      PollyProteus
      • RE: Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

        @PollyProteus Hey, I've been to Scotland. I couldn't understand half the people there either!
        boomchuck1
    • RE: Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

      @Badgered
      Because it's English, they never understood the Scotts
      Jaytmoon
  • RE: Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

    We own your voice. LOL!
    Droid.Incredible
  • &quot;...noting that the company is not about one person.&quot;

    Try telling that to all the Steve Jobs worshipers in the world.
    PollyProteus
    • RE: Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

      @PollyProteus

      Now that Steve Jobs is dead he is no longer a person.

      So if you find a worshipper, they may be exempt from your so called logic.
      richardw66
  • RE: Apple tells Siri's voice artist to 'keep quiet'

    Unless he had something in his contract that says he can't discuss it ... they can pound sand. Doesn't matter what deal for silence Apple made with the company that contracted him, if he didn't agree to a silence clause they have no grounds.
    Ididar