OpenAI delays ChatGPT’s advanced voice mode upgrade

26 Jun 2024


The company said it needs more time to prepare the feature for an alpha launch and wants to ensure it can ‘detect and refuse certain content’.

OpenAI has delayed an ‘advanced voice mode’ upgrade for ChatGPT and says it needs more time to prepare the feature for launch.

Unlike ChatGPT’s current voice option – which simply reads out the chatbot’s responses – this upgrade will give ChatGPT a more human voice and the ability to respond to voice prompts in real time.

The company revealed details about this voice mode feature with the GPT-4o update and planned to bring this feature to a “small group of ChatGPT Plus users” this month. But in an update on X, OpenAI said it needs another month to “reach our bar to launch”.

“For example, we’re improving the model’s ability to detect and refuse certain content,” OpenAI said. “We’re also working on improving the user experience and preparing our infrastructure to scale to millions while maintaining real-time responses.”

OpenAI said it still plans to launch this feature as an alpha with a “small group of users” to gather feedback. It is aiming for all ChatGPT Plus users to have access to this feature in autumn, but said the exact timeline will vary.

“We are also working on rolling out the new video and screen sharing capabilities we demoed separately, and will keep you posted on that timeline,” OpenAI said.

The company claims the advanced voice mode upgrade will let ChatGPT understand and respond to “emotions and non-verbal cues” to let users have more natural conversations with AI.

Some readers might think of the movie Her when they imagine this type of feature. Clearly, so did OpenAI, as they approached Scarlett Johansson – the voice of the AI in the film – last year to voice one of its upcoming ChatGPT voices, according to Johansson.

She refused this offer, but when the voice feature was unveiled last month, many viewers felt that one of the voices – Sky – sounded a lot like Johansson. Soon after the voices were rolled out, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman posted the word “her” on X – presumably a reference to the film that he previously said is his favourite.

After facing criticisms for the similarity and a potential lawsuit from Johansson, OpenAI pulled the Sky voice and said AI voices should not deliberately mimic a celebrity’s distinctive voice.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic