Mobile Network

Use this comparison site to pick the best and cheapest mobile phone network in the UK

08 December 20110 Comments by Jon M

Siri: privacy and broken promises

When the iPhone 4S came out earlier this year, most people’s first reaction was disappointment and asking whether anyone knew the new iPhone 5 release date. However, once Siri had been demonstrated, people were less bothered that it was called the iPhone 4S rather than the iPhone 5.

Siri is automated voice-controlled personal assistant software. In the words of Apple, Siri lets you use your voice to send messages, schedule meetings, place phone calls, and more. When you talk, it understands what you say, knows what you mean, and even talks back. However, because it runs in the cloud on Apple’s servers, Siri raises some interesting questions. We recently came across a thought-provoking article about the privacy implications of letting Apple know everything you say to Siri.

While it is not clear how much of the Siri solution is powered by the cloud and how much resides natively on the device, everything that I have read and heard suggests that there is a good deal of processing taking place in the cloud. In other words, Apple’s cloud services are in some way processing your appointments, text messages, location, commands etc. This theoretically means that Apple “knows” as much about you as your personal assistant. Scared yet?

Because Siri is learning software and because it adapts to the way you use it, Apple is tracking more and more information about the way you are and the things you do. Furthermore, if they ever release an API, third party developers might gain access to this information. While hopefully all data sent up to Apple’s servers is anonymised, there are still pertinent privacy questions to be answered.

On the subject of Siri, questions about its usefulness are emerging now people are no longer wowed by the initial thrill of a phone talking back to them and are, instead, seeing whether it has a place in their daily lives. Over on Gizmodo, they are branding Siri “a lie, and worse, a broken promise“.

…For me, once the novelty wore off, what I found was that Siri is not so intelligent after all—it’s simply another voice program that will obey very specific commands. If it knows those commands. If it can understand you. And if it has a network connection. Were this Google, or Microsoft, I’d shrug. But it’s not, it’s Apple. And Apple is the company that sells perfection. It’s a company that usually keeps its promises, and in its Siri ads, it promises far more than what it actually delivers.

What about you – what do you think about Siri? Do you trust Apple with your private data or do you think it’s a good idea not to tell them every aspect of your life? Do you think that it’s a dumb gimmick that is no use in the real world or is Siri the start of the revolution?

Even though we have found some fantastic iPhone 4S deals, we think the risk of the following is enough to put us off it 🙂

Leave a Reply