Last week Apple became the latest tech giant to be busted for employing humans to listen to virtual assistant recordings.
While this work needs to be done to improve the quality of service, the problem lies in the lack of transparency to its customers. Not to mention their inability to opt out.
Due to the subsequent backlash Apple has ceased using human contractors for the time being. But although the company has stated its intention to implement opt outs, all current recordings still exist on Apple’s servers.
Here’s how to get rid of yours.
It's commonly accepted Siri is the most garbage of the smart AI assistants. To make matters worse, Apple is getting human contractors to listen to the questions you're asking her - regardless of how private or confidential the audio is. Following a public outcry, this dubious practice will soon be an optional "feature".Read more
Unlike some of its competitors, Apple has an all-or-nothing approach to its voice recording collection. You can either have Siri enabled or you can not use it at all. Of course, the former means submitting to the possibility of people listening to your recordings for Quality Assurance.
This isn’t nefarious so much as it is an example of Apple still be comparatively new to the services game. While its hardware has be renowned for its security for decades, there are clearly flaws in its thinking when it comes to service-based applications and what people expect from them.
The lack of communication around voice data collection and usage is just one example of this. Another is a lack of user friendliness regarding the deletion of this data.
It’s all buried in your settings, and there are two things you need to do.
1. Disable Siri
To do this, simply to go ‘Settings > Siri & Search’
You’ll then want to disable both ‘Hey Siri’ and ‘Press Side Button For Siri’
Voila, Siri is now disabled.
2. Disable Dictation
While disabling Siri will prevent your iOS device from recording from here on out, it doesn’t do anything to delete the recordings already exist on Apple’s servers.
Fortunately, it can be done. It’s just not particularly straight forward.
To do this go to ‘Settings’ > ‘General’ > ‘Keyboard’.
From there you need to disable dictation, which will trigger a pop-up that let’s you know that ‘Dictation’ is used to respond to requests and it will take time to send the info back to the servers if you want to enable it again later.
It’s important to note that due to the lack of a universal account page, you will need to repeat these steps on every Siri-enabled device that you use. So if you have a HomePod, iPad, hand-me-down iPhone, etc… you’ll need to hit all of them up.
Here’s to hoping that Apple has learned its lesson and applies its security-focused and easy-ecosystem mentalities to this problem sooner rather than later.
We would also recommend an opt-in rather than opt-out system when it comes to data collection and usage. And if there could be some transparency about what’s collected and used during the device setup process that would be appreciated. Pointing to the Terms & Conditions that people blindly agree to isn’t good enough anymore.