Apple will no longer send Siri requests to its servers, the company has announced, in a move to substantially speed up the voice assistant’s operation and address privacy concerns.
The new feature comes two years after the Guardian revealed that Apple staff regularly heard confidential details while carrying out quality control for the feature.
Apple’s worldwide developers conference (WWDC) was told on Monday that, from this autumn onwards, when new versions of the company’s operating systems are released, Siri will process audio “on device” – meaning that, for the majority of queries, no recording will need to be uploaded to Apple’s servers.
“With on-device speech recognition, the audio of users’ requests is processed right on their iPhone or iPad by default,” an Apple spokesperson said. “This addresses one of the biggest privacy concerns for voice assistants, which is unwanted audio recording. For many requests, Siri processing is also moving on device, enabling requests to be processed without an internet connection, such as launching apps, setting timers and alarms, changing settings or controlling music.”
In 2019, the Guardian revealed that Siri “graders” regularly heard confidential information as part of their job assessing the voice assistant’s responses for quality. The company apologised and, after a three-month pause to the grading programme, allowed users to opt out of having their speech analysed by humans.