All About Siri Voice Preferences

Interacting with a digital voice assistant is all about creating a more personal and natural way of controlling our gadgets and getting stuff done. It makes sense that the companies behind these assistants are pushing to give us more and more options when it comes to personalizing that experience, and Apple’s Siri is not exception.

As of IOS 14.5 there are more options for languages, accents and voices than ever before. We can customize these in various ways on different devices to improve how Siri understands us, and to make it easier for everyone to listen to the responses in a voice that suites them.

Can I change Siri’s Name?

The wake phrase ‘Hey Siri’ is one thing we can’t change. With Siri enabled, our Apple devices need to be always listening for that phrase in order to know when to start recording our voice for analysis. This prevents everything we say being recorded and processed, not only to protect privacy, but also to minimize internet traffic and battery consumption.

The wake phrase has to be specifically built into the operating system so it can be quickly and reliably recognized without the need for the full voice processing functionality to be used. As such, it’s not easily changed, and Apple has provided no alternatives we can select.

Having said that, some people have said that using similar sounding names, like Sarah, can still trigger Siri. This is likely to be less reliable, but it’s something you could experiment with.

About Languages and Voices

There is a functional difference the language setting, and the voice and accent setting. The language is a per account setting that defines the actual language Siri will listen for and reply in.

For example, setting the language to French means Siri will answer requests in French and will listen for French words when processing speech. Conversely setting the language to American English and the voice accent to Indian with have Siri speak in English with an Indian accent.

There’s are often different versions of a Language, such as English (United States) and English (South Africa), which are intended to help Siri understand different dialects and accents when listening. Not all languages support the same HomePod features, and may have different voice and accent options available.

This setting also impacts whether another members of a HomeKit Home can use the Personal Requests feature, as all members of the home must be on the same language setting as the owner for this to work, but each person can tailor their voice and accent as they like.

How to change Siri’s Language

To change Siri’s Language for your account on an iPhone or iPad:

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Tap Siri & Search.

  3. Tap Language.

  4. Select the desired language from the list.

You will need to go through the Hey Siri training procedure for the new language

How to change Siri’s Voice

You can change Siri’s voice and accent for all your personal devices, or on each HomePod separately.

To change it for your personal devices:

  1. Go to Settings

  2. Tap Siri & Search

  3. Tap Siri Voice

  4. Select a Variety to choose the accent

  5. Select a Voice to choose a gender and voice variation

To change it on a specific HomePod:

  1. Open the Home app

  2. Go to the HomePod you want to change

  3. Long press on the HomePod tile to open it

  4. Scroll down to show the settings

  5. Tap Siri Voice

  6. Select a Variety to choose the accent

  7. Select a Voice to choose a gender and voice variation

Voice options on iPhone and HomePod, Phonetic name fields in Contacts

Voice options on iPhone and HomePod, Phonetic name fields in Contacts

How to change what Siri calls you

By default Siri will use the person in your Contacts that has been selected as your My Info setting. You’ll need to have yourself in your contacts with the name you want to use first. Siri will normally use the First Name field, but you can add a new field for Nickname and Siri will use that if you prefer.

  1. Once done, go to the Setting app

  2. Tap Siri & Search

  3. Tap My Information

  4. Select the contact that should represent you

Alternatively, you can always just tell Siri what to call you by saying “Hey Siri, from now on call me …”

How to correct Siri’s pronunciation of your name

With so many name variations across so many languages, it’s easy to expect Siri will have trouble with some of them. After all, even humans run into this problem often enough. You can set up some special fields in your contact info to help Siri with this.

  1. Open the Contacts app on iPhone or iPad.

  2. Select your contact card (it should be at the top listed as ‘My Card’).

  3. Tap Edit in the top right corner

  4. Scroll to the bottom and select add field

  5. You can add Phonetic fields for first, middle, or last name.

  6. Tap on the new field

  7. Enter a phonetic spelling of your name for Siri to use. You’ll have experiment with this a bit to find the best alternative as there are no specific rules.

  8. Tap Done at the top right when you’re finished

Note that you can add these fields to any of your contacts to help Siri pronounce your friends and family members names as well.

The Wrap Up

Apple has provided us with a growing number of options when it comes to customizing the Siri experience. Specifying the correct laguage can greatly assist with Siri’s understanding of our commands, and now we can select voice and accent options that are no longer coupled to that choice allowing us to listen to Siri’s responses in the accent and gender that works best for us.

What’s particularly cool is that HomePods can each have their own setting, which means those new HomePod Mini’s in individual rooms can be tailored to the people who most use them without being tied to the Home owner’s account preferences.