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Meet Susan Bennett, the voice behind Apple's Siri [Video]

October 04, 2013|By Salvador Rodriguez
  • For the first time ever, the woman behind the original U.S. voice of Siri, Apple's voice assistant, has revealed her identity.
For the first time ever, the woman behind the original U.S. voice of Siri,… (Gary Reyes / MCT )

For two years, she was the voice of Apple, giving directions to iPhone users and sometimes responding with quirky comments.

At times Siri became butt of jokes on late-night TV, and all along, iPhone users wondered who was behind the voice. Ponder no more.

Thanks to CNN, Apple fans finally know who voiced the feature.

Her name is Susan Bennett, and she is a voice-over actress who lives in Atlanta.

Bennett told CNN she has done countless voice gigs since the '70s, many of which have been used for commercial jingles, GPS systems and even as the voice customers hear at Delta Air Lines terminals.

Recently, Bennett was prompted to reveal herself as the voice behind Siri because of two circumstances beyond her control.

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Apple recently released the updated mobile operating software iOS 7, and with it the tech giant replaced Bennett as the voice of Siri in the U.S. Users can now choose between a male and a new female voice. The identity of the new voices are unknown.

Second, a video report by the Verge website, titled "How Siri found its voice," was meant to explain to users how the voice systems found on the iPhone and other smartphones are made, but the headline led some viewers to believe that Siri was voiced by an actress in the video. The actress was not the voice behind Siri.

"It seemed like everyone was clamoring to find out who the real voice behind Siri is, and so I thought, well, you know, what the heck? This is the time," Bennett told CNN.

Apple did not confirm Bennett as the voice to CNN. Instead, the news organization counted on her word, that of people who represent her legally and a veteran audio-forensics expert who analyzed Bennett's and Siri's voices and found a 100% match.

Bennett told CNN that to create the voice of Siri, she sat in her home studio every day throughout July 2005, reading all sorts of senseless lines for four hours every day.

"I get extremely bored," she said. "So I just take breaks. That's one of the reasons why Siri might sometimes sound like she has a bit of an attitude."

At the time, Bennett said, she had no idea what the recordings were for. She said she was simply doing work for a company called GM Voices, which she'd worked with numerous times before, and that GM Voices was working with a software firm called ScanSoft.

Years later, she said, when Apple announced Siri, she began getting questions from her colleagues, who would ask her "Isn't this you?"

"Oh, I knew," she said. "It's obviously me. It's my voice."

But as more and more Apple users upgrade their gadgets to iOS 7, Bennett is nearing the end of her reign as the voice of Apple's assistant. She told CNN that as technology improves, users will someday likely be able to program their voice assistants to sound like themselves.

"I really see a time when you'll probably be able to put your own voice on your phone and have your own voice talk back to you," she said. "Which I'm used to, but maybe you aren't."


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