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Voice behind British Siri goes public despite Apple warning

Former technology journalist and now voice-over actor Jon Briggs has outed himself as the voice of Apple's Siri in the United Kingdom, as reported by the Telegraph.

The voice behind the U.K.'s Siri speaks.
The voice behind the U.K.'s Siri speaks.
Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Former technology journalist Jon Briggs has revealed himself as the voice of Siri in the United Kingdom, despite a warning from Apple to keep silent.

In an interview with the U.K.'s Telegraph, Briggs outed himself as the voice behind Daniel, the name given to the U.K.'s version of Siri. iPhone 4S users who change Siri's language in iOS 5 to English (United Kingdom) can hear the actual voice, which naturally carries with it a slight British accent.

Briggs spilled the beans even after a call from an Apple PR rep who told him not to speak publicly about Siri, warning him that Apple employees were not allowed to discuss the company's product. But Briggs countered the rep, saying that he had actually recorded the snippets six years ago for another company and never even had a contract with Apple. That was the last he heard from Apple, according to the Telegraph.

The voice-over actor said he did the recordings for Scansoft's text-to-speech services. Scansoft merged with Nuance in 2005, which eventually created the voice recognition technology that lets Siri carry on a conversation.

"Five thousand sentences over three weeks, spoken in a very particular way and only reading flat and even," Briggs told the Telegraph. "Then they 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."

After hearing the voice, Briggs found that it got as close to human speech as anything else. "It gets everything right, more or less, apart from the inflection," he noted.

The voice has been used for other organizations, such as the the British Computer Association for the Blind and London's King's Cross station. Briggs is also heard in the U.K. as the voice of the BBC show The Weakest Link. But it's the voice's debut on the new iPhone that's getting the most buzz. Briggs counts himself as a fan of the new feature even though he might have seen more money had he known where his voice would end up.

"I got paid a decent sum by Scansoft," he told the Telegraph. "I love Apple's products and I think Siri is a game-changer."