Apple has revealed a new feature that allows iPhones and iPads to generate digital replicas of the user’s voice.
The Personal Voice feature is expected to be part of iOS 17, and it will work with the Live Speech feature, allowing users to record their own voice and communicate with others through audio calls or platforms such as FaceTime.
Users can create a personal voice by reading a random collection of text prompts to record 15 minutes of audio on their iPhone or iPad.
The Live Speech feature then allows users to type messages on the device to be read aloud.
If they use certain phrases often, they can be saved as shortcuts.
If they create a personal speech model, they can play the phrases in their own voices — otherwise the device’s digital assistant, Siri, will read the phrases.
It targets people with certain diseases, such as ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), which may mean they lose the ability to speak in the future.
Since being diagnosed with ALS in 2018, there has been a significant change in the voice of Philip Green, board member of the Gleason Charity Group and ALS advocate.
“At the end of the day, the most important thing is being able to communicate with friends and family,” he said.
“If you can tell them you love them, with a voice that sounds like you, it makes all the difference in the world — and to be able to create your synthetic voice on your iPhone in as little as 15 minutes is extraordinary.”
The feature is one of many new tools coming to Apple devices later this year, though the company wouldn’t say when.
Another app, called Point And Speak, will allow users to point their finger at something in front of the camera, and the app will read writing on or near it — one person used it, for example, to read the writing on a microwave button.
The feature is only available on Apple devices with built-in lidar sensors — the tech giant’s pricier iPhone and iPad models.
The news comes ahead of the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 5, where Apple is also expected to show off its first virtual reality headset.