Friday, November 11, 2011
Siri on iPhone 4: Jon Briggs the Voice Behind Siri

Siri on iPhone 4: Jon Briggs the Voice Behind Siri

Jon Briggs, the voice of Apple’s British version of the famous Siri software, has been revealed against the wishes of the company this week.

The voice-over actor was very surprised to find he was a part of the voice-recognition software. Briggs had recorded the snippets years ago for a completely different company, Scansoft.

The voice actor and writer heard the advertisement for the iPhone 4S and Siri on the television, and realized it was his voice. Apple subsequently contacted him, telling him not to reveal his identity. Briggs countered, saying he never had a contract with Apple, and they apparently gave up after that.

In an interview with the British publication Telegraph, Briggs told them it wasn’t easy getting all the sounds to come out just right. “"Five thousand sentences over three weeks, spoken in a very particular way and only reading flat and even," he said.

"Then they (the company) 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," he added.

The result is a monotone voice resembling human speech closely, with the ability to speak thousands of words and sentences, even ones Briggs has never recorded.

“It gets everything right, more or less, apart from the inflection,” said the U.K. voice-over actor.

Briggs’ work in voice-acting doesn’t end there, though. His clipped British accent has been the voice of various products, including Garmin, TomTom, Jaguar, Land Rover, Audi, and Porsche navigation systems.

Similarly to the iPhone 4S, Briggs did not know his voice would be utilized for all these products, but he says he was paid pretty well anyways.

“I got paid a decent sum by Scansoft,” he explained.

Briggs is happy to contribute to such a popular software, especially one that could be used a lot in the future.

“I love Apple’s products and I think Siri is a game-changer,” said Briggs.