Did you miss a session from GamesBeat Summit 2022? All sessions are available to stream now. Watch now.

There’s a real person behind the British voice of Siri, Apple’s wildly-popular voice assistant for the iPhone 4S. He was surprised as anyone to learn this, when he heard his voice on television in a commercial.

The voice in question is that of John Briggs, a former technology journalist, who says he “fell into” voiceover work, in an interview with The Telegraph. Biggs recorded 5,000 sentences over the course of three weeks for British firm Scansoft (now part of Nuance).

“I did a set of recordings with Scansoft five or six years ago, for text-to-speech services,” says Briggs. “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.”

Briggs was later asked by Apple not to mention that he was the voice of “Daniel,” the Scansoft project for which his voice was recorded. Briggs told the Guardian that a representative for Apple told him, “We’re not about one person,” and asked him to keep silent about his voice work for the company. Briggs had a contract with Scansoft, not Apple, which is why he chose to disregard their request, and go public. Nuance, which bought Scansoft, partnered with Apple on the development of Siri.

Siri has different voices for different English-speaking regions, with a female-sounding American English interpreter, a male British English voice, and a female Australian English assistant. The American Siri voice is completely computer generated.

Scansoft paid Briggs a handsome sum of money for the three weeks of work, so he’s happy, even after being asked to keep mum. “I love Apple’s products and I think Siri is a game-changer.”

[Recording Studio Image via ShutterStock]

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Learn more about membership.