When the iPhone 4S launched two years ago, it came packaged with a female personal assistant that could help you store reminders, make appointments, and even set alarms with your voice on your phone. Siri, as Apple officially dubbed it, is now a staple feature of Apple’s iOS device lineup, and a more customizable feature in the recently released iOS 7.
But that little voice from within your phone has changed as of recent. More voices options have been added, more languages are available for use, and the female voice actress has also changed. But voiceover artist Susan Bennett claimed to CNN that she was the original voice of Siri.
And when you hear her speak, it’s hard to imagine that she’s wrong.
But who is Susan Bennett? In the 1970s, she was the voice of Tilly the all-time teller, the first ATM Machine, which was created by First National Bank. Her voice is also featured over intercoms on Delta flights, when you hear “Thank you for flying Delta Airlines!” She’s also lent her punctual pipes to GPS devices and automated telephone response systems.
But she first became the voice of Siri long before the launch of the iPhone 4S in 2011.
“The Siri voices were recorded in 2005, in the month of July, four hours a day for the whole month,” Bennett told CNN. “When I recorded those voices, I had absolutely no idea where they would end up.”
A software company by the name of ScanSoft, which is now a subsidiary of Nuance Communications, apparently approached Bennett with an offer to record some lines for a database used for digital speech construction. Though there’s no official Apple confirmation to support it, it’s believed that Nuance was the company contracted by Apple to provide the tech to make Siri possible.
Bennett didn’t think that her voice was going to be used for anything more than traditional telephone systems, but was made fully aware of its use in the iPhone 4S when a friend contacted her.
“The first time I actually heard my voice as Siri was when my friend emailed me and said, ‘Isn’t this you?’ Bennett said.
“And because I didn’t have the newest version of the iPhone, I went to the Apple site and that’s where I heard the voice, and I just went, ‘Ohh, hmm. That is me.’”
Apple hasn’t yet confirmed Bennett’s claims, but Bennett’s legal representation has vouched for her completely. Additionally, “audio-forensics” given to CNN are reportedly a “100%” match.
Bennett says she wanted to reveal herself as Siri’s original voice actress after The Verge published a feature called “How Siri Found Its Voice,” which features another Siri-sounding voice actress as the center focus, Allison Dufty.
“I was conservative about it for a long time… then this Verge video came out… and it seems 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.”
Dufty also made a recent post to her own website, which disclaims that she is “positively NOT the voice of Siri,” clearing up the fact that even though her inclusion in the Verge video seems to indicate it, she’s not the voice reminding you of your daily appointments.
Funnily enough, Bennett also took the time to clarify why some of the original Siri responses came off as “snippy” in tone to some users.
“There are some people that just can read hour upon hour upon hour, and it’s not a problem,” Bennett explained to CNN.
“For me, I get extremely bored … So I just take breaks. That’s one of the reasons why Siri might sometimes sound like she has a bit of an attitude. Those sounds might have been recorded the last 15 minutes of those four hours.”