While we’re a long way off from being able to create sentient duplicates of ourselves to go to work while we nap, a somewhat obscure feature on your Apple iPhone is bringing us a little closer. There’s a feature in iOS 17 that allows users to create and utilize a “clone” of their voice for a variety of tasks.
According to Digital Trends, the feature, dubbed Personal Voice, essentially makes a photocopy of your voice that’s then stored on the device. Utilizing text-to-speech, you can type messages and then have the phone recite them aloud as though you were actually speaking.
Unsettling? Kind of. But it’s more than a novelty. Text-to-speech is extremely useful for those suffering from worsening speech impairment or speech loss due to illness or injury. One could, for example, call someone to talk rather than exchange text messages. While they speak, you could type a response and then have it converted to your voice.
To activate the feature, you need an iPhone or iPad running iOS 17. Go to Settings, then Accessibility, then select Personal Voice. Then tap Create a Personal Voice. From there, you can follow the onscreen instructions, which will prompt you to read 150 phrases.
This voice bank will be digested over the course of several hours. When it’s ready, you can return to Settings, Accessibility, then enable Live Speech. Under Voices, select Personal Voice. And that’s it. You’re ready to use the feature for phone calls or FaceTime chats.
You can get an idea of how the feature works in the video below:
Personal Voice joins a list of new services Apple has introduced to make their devices more accessible. The Live Speech feature, which doesn’t require pre-recording speech, can read text aloud; Assistive Access improves visibility and simplifies the user interface; Point and Speak assists in identifying text or buttons on common household items like microwaves.
That said, there are a few caveats: Currently, Personal Voice is only available in English. And there is certainly potential for misadventure. If your phone was stolen and its password breached, scammers could conceivably begin ringing friends and family asking for money in your voice.