ChatGPT has conveniently distracted us from OpenAI's boardroom drama, which has just seen Sam Altman return to the company as CEO, by making its Voice chat feature available to all free users.
The AI chatbot got its impressively conversational voice powers in September, but this feature was limited to the paid Plus and Enterprise tiers. But now OpenAI, which is looking for a shiny object to take eyes away from its recent meltdown, has made 'ChatGPT with voice' available to all users.
To use it, you just need the latest version of ChatGPT's iOS or Android app. Tap on the headphones icon at the bottom of the screen and you can start quizzing the chatbot about anything you like – as long as your question isn't about recent events, like OpenAI's CEO merry-go-round.
That's because the GPT-3.5 model that's available to free users has only been trained on data going up to January 2022. So when you ask it, for example, 'Why was Sam Altman fired from OpenAI?', it answers that there are “no public reports or indications” of this happening. How convenient.
Still, if you're looking for a voice assistant that's a bit chattier and more knowledgeable than the likes of Apple's Siri, then the ChatGPT voice function is a fun new tool (assuming the service hasn't gone down, like it did at around 2pm PT / 10pm GMT yesterday).
You can choose from five different voices and your chats (but not the audio clips) are saved just like your text-based conversations. It'll also auto-detect languages, though you can also choose this in the Settings menu.
A Siri replacement?
Given it's now possible to use ChatGPT with Siri, the arrival of voice powers on the chatbot's free version is a potentially big deal. That's particularly the case for owners of the iPhone 15 Pro, who can map ChatGPT to the new Action button (by going to Settings > Action Button > Shortcut).
Siri and ChatGPT still have notable differences though. For example, Siri is deeply integrated with the iPhone, allowing it to perform actions like setting timers and controlling your phone's volume.
But ChatGPT's depth of knowledge and more conversational style is arguably better when it comes to general knowledge questions – as long as you're aware of its propensity to hallucinate.
It's certainly a fun, free feature to play with and will no doubt take some of the attention off OpenAI's Succession-like boardroom tussles, which could ultimately have a big impact on how the AI chatbot tussle plays out in 2024.