Apple has been listening to Siri sample recordings to improve the quality of the service. Now users can delete possible recordings.
Apple did a lot of discussion last week from the Guardian. The British newspaper has revealed that Apple sends a small part of conversations with Siri to some employees in various parts of the world, with the aim of listening to the questions asked by users to evaluate the effectiveness of the service and improve the functionality of interaction with the voice assistant.
The clamor on the matter led Apple to review the procedures and, again at the Guardian, an Apple spokesman reported that the company will implement “a profound review of the system”; it was decided intact to suspend the conversation evaluation system with Siri all over the world and, moreover, as part of a future software update “users will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to participate in the evaluation system”.
In the documentation dedicated to the security of iOS ( here in PDF), the Apple explains that the recording of words pronounced by the user is sent to the Apple voice recognition server.
If the operation is limited to dictation, the recognized text is then returned to the device. Otherwise, Siri analyzes the text and, if necessary, combines it with the information contained in the profile associated with the device. For example, if the user asks “Send a message to the mother”, the service uses the reports and names that have been uploaded by Contacts. The command for the identified action is then sent to the device for execution. Many Siri actions are completed by the device under the direction of the server.
For example, if the user asks Siri to read a message he has received, the server simply tells the device to pronounce the contents of unread messages. Content and sender of the message are not sent to the server.
“Voice recordings are stored for six months, so the recognition system can use them to better understand the user’s voice”, explains Apple. “After six months another copy is saved, without an identifier, that Apple can use for up to two years in order to improve and develop Siri. A small subset of registrations, transcripts and associated data without identifiers could continue to be used by Siri for over two years for quality control and constant improvement.
The system also preserves some records that refer to music, sports teams and players, commercial activities or points of interest, always with the aim of improving Siri ”.
The Appleinsider site reports that it is possible to eliminate the sending of recordings by going into the settings. Here’s how to proceed from iOS and macOS.
- Select “Settings”, from here “Siri and Search” and deactivate the “Enable Hey Siri” and “Press the side button for Siri”
- Select “Settings”> “General”> “Keyboard” and deactivate “Enable dictation”.
From the Mac
- Select System Preferences, click on “Siri” and deactivate the “Enable ask Siri” option.
- From System Preferences> Keyboard, select “Dictation” and set the dictation to “No”.
No action is required from Apple Watch or HomePod (iPhone settings are taken into account). The above settings DEACTIVATE Siri and reading functions and these will not work until reactivation. Obviously by reactivating the functions mentioned above the data collection process will restart with a new anonymous identifier.
In any case, for the moment Apple has suspended the procedure for collecting voice recordings which should be used to improve the quality of conversations and, as already mentioned, in future updates it will explicitly request the user’s consent to anonymously register a small percentage of conversations.