ChatGPT's voice chat feature is now free so you can finally (kinda) ditch Siri

ChatGPT on iPhone with siri
(Image credit: John-Anthony Disotto)

OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, went through quite the weekend recently, firing its CEO, hiring a new one, then firing him and bringing the previous CEO back. It was a real rollercoaster, but after all that dust settled the company found time to make a new feature available to more people. And it's huge.

That feature is ChatGPT Voice, and while it's been around since September it was previously limited to only those who paid for the Plus and Enterprise tiers of ChatGPT. Those who don't pay anything and thus use the free plan were left in the cold.

But that's now changed, and ChatGPT's voice chat feature is available to anyone with an OpenAI account and it has the potential to change the way people use the chatbot entirely. All while putting yet more pressure on Apple and its oft-bewildered digital assistant, Siri.

ChatGPT has a voice now?

Yes, ChatGPT has a voice now. As mentioned, it was first launched a couple of months ago but it was impossible to get your hands on it without handing over any money. At the time, OpenAI described ChatGPT Voice by saying that users "can now use voice to engage in a back-and-forth conversation with your assistant. Speak with it on the go, request a bedtime story for your family, or settle a dinner table debate."

Using ChatGPT voice is dead simple, too. Just open the ChatGPT app, press the headphones button, and speak. It's pretty great, and it works surprisingly well. It sure puts Siri to shame, let's put it that way.

Fast-forward to this week and OpenAI co-founder Greg Brockman, someone else who left the company for about three days, announced that voice conversations were coming to all OpenAI accounts, even those that don't pay a penny.

There's a short video of it being used in that X post as well, including a little nod to the mess that has been OpenAI's last few days.

But that's just the beginning, because not only does this mean that Siri looks worse because ChatGPT's crown jewel feature is available to all iPhone users, but there's also a sting in the tail. And it's called Shortcuts and the Action button.

OK, that's two stings. Or two tails. Whatever it is, it's bad news for Siri.

Getting chatty with ChatGPT

The key fact here is that ChatGPT presents an action to Apple's Shortcuts app that allows people to quickly and easily initiate a voice chat. Create a shortcut with that action in it and you're a tap away from talking to a chatbot. And I'm sure you can see where this is going.

For those with an iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max, setting that shortcut to run every time the Action button is pressed is trivial, making it easy to replace Apple's incumbent digital assistant with something altogether more capable. No, ChatGPT can't turn your lights off or on — although Siri in my HomePods can't do that reliably, either — nor can it interact with phone functions or apps. But it can answer questions, provide information, and all the usual ChatGPT magic all via a voice conversation. And if this is what Apple's rumored big 2024 AI push brings to iOS 18 and the iPhone 16, I'm all in and it can't come soon enough.

At least configuring the Action button to launch ChatGPT voice doesn't mean that Siri is gone for good — you can still use it for all those boring things like starting a timer and then leave all the more useful things to something else.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

  • Just_Me_D
    I like Siri. I mean, I don’t sit around trying to have a full blown back and forth conversation with Siri. 9 times out of 10, Siri gets the job done.

    Set a reminder
    Set a timer
    Set an alarm
    What’s the temperature
    What’s the score
    What’s the name of that song
    Navigate to _____
    Send a message to ____
    Reply to my last message
    Turn on / Turn off the lights
    Where’s the closest ______

    and others.