Monthly Archives: February 2017

iOS10 Presently

Hi folks. This is another entry in the blog, about iOS10 and how it is doing for me, so far. I’ve commented on it in the past few months and I will get more into some things I just touched on in previous posts.
In the case of the voices, we have a whole host of them to work with in all dialects. The American voices have been expanded to include not just the classic tones but voices such as: Ava, Allison, Susan, Fred, Tom, Kate, Oliver, Serena, Lee and many others. Even the Siri names have been exposed such as: for the American Siri voice as we have Nicky for the female voice and Aaron for the mail voice. For the Australian voice we have Catherine for the female Siri and Gordon for the mail Siri voice. For the British voice we have Martha for the female voice and Albert for the mail Siri voice.
If you recognize some of the voices from elsewhere, you are not alone. Tom was previously one of the voices for not just a number of IVR phone systems but also the mail voice for NOAA Weather Radio, untill 2016. He might be returning to Weather Radio in the future, as the new English speaking voice for Weatheradio Canada. However, it may be a while yet before everything falls into place for changes to the current voice platform.
Ava has been currently used on a number of ivr phone systems for some transit systems and even Greyhound’s phone number. However, in some cases she has been used as the secondary voice, alongside the main human voice with the greeting and the prompts. In the case of Go Transit, she’s the voice who responds to words much like Siri, with such such phrases as for example: “you would like to depart from Union Station. Is that right?” I think she was chosen because she speaks slowly and clearly and this is also evident, when using her on my iPhone or my iPod touch. Her voice also has a calming affect on you and you just wish she could give you a hug, after she helped you get where you wanted to eventually go.
In the case of Susan, the only place I found her so far is on the IVR phone system for MiWay,the transit system for Mississauga Ontario. Again, she is actually the occasional robotic female voice, behind the human female voice who speaks the prompts. My guess is she is used for phrases which may have been too difficult to properly record or process, but I’m not sure. Either way, that is her and I’ll explain how I know this with both her and Ava.
In the cases of both Ava and Susan, I did an experiment using applications for Transit Systems in the GTA or writing out something that would sound similar to what they would say on the IVR phone system. In the case of Ava, I actually wrote out “You’re crazy. Is that right?” I just wanted to prove to myself that nothing was changed in her dialect or inflections and of course, I was correct. In the case of Susan, I use one of my transit applications which also had MiWay as a part of it and I use one of the stock locations I’d heard on the phone. The speed was changed slightly, along with the vocal phrasing but it was Susan, without any doubt. Her voice is very distinguishable from the human sounding voice, which breathes and Susan of course, does not breathe, unlike Alex. I don’t know why but I picture the voice of Susan as a Woman who is tall and slender and a very outgoing and kind personality. In the case of Ava, she sounds like a very relaxed and very nice person, who is more average height and average build, but with a gentle nature.
I think all those voices were chosen because most if not all of them, were and are used as GPS voices. Obviously, Karen Jacobson is a main voice but also Samantha is used, along with Tom and other voices. It’s kind of hard not to imagine any of them saying “turn right at the next intersection. Walk 100 m to your destination” on a GPS system from either Garmin or tom-tom.
As for my own personal use of the voices, I use them for everything you can think of such as: reading things, composing blog entries like this one and yes, using them for going places with my transit apps or my maps app on the iPhone. I know there are still many other voices out there, which have yet to appear on iPhones and other iOS devices, which are available and heard on other mediums such as TV and radio. Also, let us not forget that some voices are used in your local train or bus station and someday they will appear on your iOS device, so you can have a lot of fun with them in the future. Picture creating your own trip plan in your head, to where ever it is you want to go and putting it in your notes app on: your iPhone, iPod, iPad or whatever iOS device you have. If the human sounding Paul is available for iOS11, that would be great for those of us who have weather applications, which have the American weather forecasts available to us. After all, Paul is currently being used for NOAA Weather Radio. Also, let us not forget about Mike and Crystal, who are also voices that have been used for various automated services in the past 13 years or so. Even some amateur radio repeaters use Mike or Crystal as the identification voice to put out the call sign. Even a computerized voice which was used for the old Speak And Spell toy is used on some repeaters for the same purpose. Will it, Mike or Crystal become available for iOS in the future? It’s hard to say but it depends on how big the update is and I’m certainly looking forward to iOS 11 and beyond, to hear what new voices become a part of my life for the next year going forward.
As for everything else, well… Everything else seems to be going along swimmingly. Although, in the case of iOS 10 point to the video app had a bug in it, which didn’t allow videos that were not on all devices not to be shown. I don’t know why but it was thankfully fixed for iOS 10.2.1. I also noticed that I have been able to download things as usual, since I have deleted Siri app suggestions. What I do like is that I can actually go to either music or the iBooks by going to the Control Center and going to page 2. In the case of the music I can play songs in random order which, normally I don’t like but sometimes I let it do that, if I’m feeling lazy. After all, there is nothing wrong with a little variety. Right? My musical tastes are very diverse although, I usually focus on one genre or collective genres of music that I talk about with people. Anyway, I digress.
So, here’s hoping that iOS10.3 is just as interesting and I wonder if it will be accompanied by a new iPod or iPad.

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