Apple is planning to add a wide range of new accessibility features to its devices this year, and one of them is the ability to clone your voice.
The tech industry has been making strides in recent years in hopes of helping disabled users to utilize popular devices. Tools like live captions and transcription, for example, have made life infinitely easier for hearing impaired users.
Now, thanks to advancements in machine learning, Apple is planning to roll out a voice cloning feature that could be transformative for those with speaking impairments as well.
Apple Announces Personal Voice Feature
Announced in a blog post ahead of the company's WWDC 2023 event, Apple announced an array of accessibility features for users. Among them is the ability to clone your voice to use in conversations with friends and family on an iPhone or iPad.
“At Apple, we’ve always believed that the best technology is technology built for everyone.” – Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
The feature is quite impressive, providing the user with an assortment of random verbal prompts that can have the user's voice cloned after only 15 minutes. The program also integrates with the company's new Live Speech feature, which allows users to type out words that can be spoken on FaceTime through an iPhone, iPad, or Mac device.
Why Does Apple Want to Clone Your Voice?
While the new Personal Voice feature might sound a bit creepy, the intended use is quite noble. The goal is to provide speech disabled users that may be impacted by diseases like ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) the ability to speak to loved ones in their own voice, even after the effects have gotten bad.
“At the end of the day, the most important thing is being able to communicate with friends and family. If you can tell them you love them, in a voice that sounds like you, it makes all the difference in the world — and being able to create your synthetic voice on your iPhone in just 15 minutes is extraordinary.” – Philip Green, board member the Team Gleason nonprofit
While the intention might be noble, the reality is that the online world is rife with hackers and nefarious actors. Subsequently, the creation of even more data for them to steal could result in some serious problems.
Is Your Voice Data Secure?
When a new feature like this comes out, it's understandable that some users may be skeptical. After all, voice cloning scams have become popular since the advance of AI technology made it possible, which should have everyone on edge about how this kind of tech will be used.
Fortunately, Apple has assured users that their voice data will be safe, and thanks to Apple's closed-off ecosystem, you should feel relatively comfortable with how secure your voice data will be in the long run.
Obviously, Apple devices aren't impervious to hacks, but they're still laden with layers of protection, so your voice data should be secure. Just make sure you follow best practices for security at all times, as this kind of data could present some serious problems.