A patent application published today shows Apple could be testing new ways for Siri to speak based on environmental conditions. This would give Siri similar functionality to the Amazon Alexa platform.

As spotted by AppleInsider, “Apple is researching how to detect environmental noise levels and user voice patterns so Siri can respond with a yell or a whisper as needed.”

Apple has been criticized since other voice assistants can already do this. Alexa, for example, can whisper if you do. Siri, meanwhile, doesn’t understand the difference between a crowded environment or a very quiet one.

If Apple keeps working on this patent, Siri could soon speak with different tones:

“The audio appliance (…) when executed by the processor, cause the appliance to select a playback volume according to the classified speech mode, the one or more cues, or a combination thereof, and to output the synthesized speech at the selected playback volume.”

This means that if you had to raise your voice so that Siri could hear you, the voice assistant would respond at a modulated higher volume. Or, if you have a HomePod mini beside your bed and whisper to Siri to “set the alarm for 6 o’clock,” the assistant could whisper back an “I set the alarm” instead of speaking in its regular voice.

Year over year, Apple is enhancing Siri. For example, the voice assistant knows 20 times more facts than it did three years ago. At WWDC19, Apple announced a more humanized voice for the virtual assistant, speaking sentences more clearly. With iOS 14.5, Siri also received two new English American voices.

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