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Apple today announced that it will be reinstating the Siri audio program later in the year with some new policy changes. Apple apologized for how it previously handled user data.

The company says it will no longer retain audio recordings by default. Users will have to opt in if they want Apple to use voice samples, and Apple will aim to delete any recordings that are inadvertent activations.

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Also, Apple says that only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to Siri recordings from now on. This indicates that Apple will no longer hire external contractors to do the legwork. We have already heard reports that contracting teams were laid off in the aftermath of the decision to halt Siri grading.

Human review for Siri recordings helps Apple improve the recognition and understanding algorithms that Siri uses to operate.

Apple says that the audio grading will return later this fall alongside software updates that allow customers to choose if they want to opt-in to improve the Siri service. It’s worth pointing out that the current developer betas of iOS 13 and iOS 13.1 do not include any such toggles for Siri data collection.

If users do not opt in to having their audio recordings stored and reviewed, note that Apple will still save the computer-generated transcript in text form. All recordings and transcripts are anonymized as much as possible.

The Siri audio recording scandal hit headlines last month as it was revealed that contractors were regularly listening to snippets of private and personal conversations as part of the Siri audio recording and review process. Whilst Apple’s policy was technically covered by its privacy policy terms and conditions, it was buried in legalese and not explicitly obvious to users of Siri.

Apple has released a special support document to explain the Siri grading procedures in more detail.

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Jamf


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