ETtech Explainer: ChatGPT extends voice feature to free users; here’s how to use it

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Amidst the abrupt removal and subsequent reinstatement of its CEO Sam Altman, OpenAI’s ChatGPT has extended the availability of its new voice feature to all free users.

Elevate Your Tech Prowess with High-Value Skill CoursesWhat is the ChatGPT voice feature?

In a post on X, the microblogging platform formerly known as Twitter, OpenAI said that users can tap the headset icon in the mobile application to interact verbally with the artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot. Meaning, they can initiate voice conversations with ChatGPT, and receive voice responses.

The voice interaction feature was introduced in September but had been restricted to paid subscribers.

“ChatGPT with voice is now available to all free users. Download the app on your phone and tap the headphones icon to start a conversation,” the company wrote on X.

Key things to know about ChatGPT voice

OpenAI released the voice feature for its Plus and Enterprise users in September 2023.

It is powered by a text-to-speech model capable of generating human-like audio from text and a brief sample of speech.

The company collaborated with professional voice actors to create each voice and used Whisper, its open-source speech recognition system, to transcribe spoken words into text.

In the video on X, ChatGPT showcased a person inquiring, “It’s been a long night for the team, and we’re hungry. How many 16-inch pizzas should I order for 778 people?”

The slightly tongue-in-cheek message alludes to the internal turmoil at OpenAI, which has a similar number of employees.

Here’s how to access the voice feature in ChatGPT

Tap the headphone icon located at the bottom right corner of the chat screen.

Choose a voice from five different options for your voice assistant by tapping on the ‘Choose a Voice’ button and confirming your selection (you can change the voice at any time).

Start speaking to the chatbot to either provide a voice prompt or initiate a conversation with it.

The OpenAI-Sam Altman saga

Last Saturday, OpenAI’s board abruptly dismissed Altman via a video call citing that he was not ‘consistently candid’ in his communications with the board.

Subsequently, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella roped in Altman and former OpenAI president Greg Brockman, who had quit to protest Altman’s ouster, to lead a new advanced AI research team.

Meanwhile, numerous employees threatened to resign unless Altman and Brockman were reinstated. After intense negotiations, OpenAI on Wednesday announced that both would return to the ChatGPT maker.

Brockman encouraged users to try ChatGPT voice as it purportedly “totally changes the ChatGPT user experience”.

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