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"Voice" behind Siri crosses Apple, goes public

A British voiceover actor and former BBC journalist who supplied the voice for Siri in the United Kingdom says that Apple tried to get him to keep quiet about his starring role.

In an interview with Britain's Telegraph newspaper, Jon Briggs said he was the voice behind Daniel, which was the name given to the U.K.'s version of Siri. (If you swap Siri's language setting in iOS 5 to English (United Kingdom) you'll hear the voice with a slight British accent.)

But Apple was not happy about Briggs' taking his 15 minutes of fame. An Apple representative called Briggs and told him not to talk publicly about Siri as Apple employees were not allowed to discuss its products, he said. "We're not about one person," Briggs said he was told.

Still, it's not clear that Apple could have done much to stop Briggs, who said he does not have a contract with Apple. He recorded the voice segments six years ago for Scansoft's text-to-speech services. In 2005 Scansoft merged with Nuance, the company whose voice recognition technology got built into Siri.

"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." Briggs said he became aware of his role after watching a product demonstration on television. And no, Briggs added, he's not feeling shortchanged.

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

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