Siri's finally reading my messages in the right language thanks to iOS 17.4

Apple's assistant no longer sounds like she's trying to read a phonetic transcription backward. Here's how to enable this feature for the 22 languages currently supported.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
iPhone with Siri

Siri is Apple's most public AI tool for now.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Bilingual families are very common in the US, where about 20% of families speak more than one language at home. My husband and I are native Spanish speakers, and our three children are all native English speakers and active Spanish deniers. Two languages make texting in Spanglish inevitable, but Siri is finally catching up with iOS 17.4.

The latest iOS update allows Siri to read your messages in any supported language. Imagine you and your best friend text in Dutch while your wife texts you in Italian. Before now, if you had Siri in English on your iPhone and got a message in a different language while wearing your AirPods, for example, the voice assistant would try its best to read it.

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When I say "try its best", I mean it. Siri, bless its virtual heart, would stumble over, under, and through all the words, saying a jumbled senseless mess of a simple "vete para la peluqueria" (Spanish for "go to the hairdresser"). 

But with iOS 17.4, Siri can now read messages in the languages they were sent into your AirPods during your workout, while you're cooking, or when you're walking the dog, without you having to stop to wonder what in the digital world Apple's voice assistant just uttered. 

If you want Siri to read messages in languages other than English, you must enable this in your Settings under Siri & Search. Only 22 languages are currently supported, though more languages could come in future iOS updates. English is Siri's default language, so it's not on the list, but you can choose more than one extra language for Siri to read your messages.

Here's a list of all supported languages:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese (Cantonese - Hong Kong)
  • Chinese (Mandarin - China mainland)
  • Chinese (Mandarin - Taiwan)
  • Danish
  • Dutch (Netherlands)
  • Finnish
  • French (Canada)
  • French (France)
  • German (Germany)
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Malay
  • Norwegian Bokmål
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Russian
  • Spanish (Mexico)
  • Spanish (Spain)
  • Thai
  • Turkish

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If you haven't gotten iOS 17.4 yet and have an iPhone X series or newer, go to your iPhone Settings and then select General, then Software Update, to see if the update is ready for download on your device.

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