Apple Siri Grading Whistleblower, Podcast Exclusivity, with Andrew Orr - ACM 530

· Bryan Chaffin · Apple Context Machine Podcast

Apple Context Machine Logo

Bryan Chaffin and Andrew Orr talk about surveillance capitalism and the former Apple employee and Siri grading whistleblower who recently went public. They also discuss the growing battle for podcast exclusivity between the tech giants and Spotify.

Location is One of The Big Factors in Advertising

· Andrew Orr · Link

Location symbol on a map.

Jennifer Jolly wrote an article wondering if Siri was spying on her because she began to see ads in Spanish after her husband began speaking Spanish at home, within “earshot” of her iPad. The answer is, of course, no. In her buried lede she tells us that she had just moved to a predominantly Spanish-speaking part of Oakland California. It seems reasonable to me that you would see Spanish ads in a Spanish area. Although I’m sure the device’s language is a factor. We did have news last year that contractors listened to some snippets of Siri recordings, but that was to improve the service and not sell ads. Meanwhile, if you turn on Limit Ad Tracking in Settings, your advertising identifier is zeroed. After that, location becomes one of the big factors in advertising.

And Apple says it engineers its devices to protect user privacy. When it comes to Siri, which is integrated in nearly every Apple device, the assistant is designed to activate only after the wake word (“Hey, Siri”) or a waking action is completed, Apple says.

Swiss Company Launches Apple TV Remote Alternative

· Andrew Orr · Link

Swiss company Salt has launched an Apple TV remote alternative with more buttons and less touch pad.

Thanks to Apple’s input, the alternative remote doesn’t require any pairing with ‌Apple TV‌ and works out of the box. It includes directional arrows in place of the Siri Remote’s glass Touch surface, a power button in addition to a Menu button, along with separate volume and channel rockers and traditional media playback buttons.

Supposedly Apple even worked with Salt to create this.

iOS 13.2 Will Let You Delete Your Siri Audio History

· Andrew Orr · Link

Siri logo

The latest Apple betas like iOS 13.2 have a feature that lets you delete your Siri audio history in settings.

In addition to offering an explicit opt-in, Apple has promised that only employees, and not contractors, will be involved in reviewing the audio clips. However, this doesn’t stop the automated text transcriptions of your Siri requests from being transmitted to Apple, irrespective of whether you opt-in or -out, although they will pseudonymized and dissociated from your Apple ID. What’s more, these transcripts could be reviewed by employees and contractors.

I’m glad that Apple is adding this feature, and given its privacy stance I’m surprised it’s a feature we don’t already have.

Siri Will Work Better With Third-Party Messaging Apps

· Andrew Orr · Link

Siri logo

Apple said that later this year an iOS update will enable Siri to work better with third-party messaging apps. If you use the assistant to send messages, it will default to whatever message you use the most, instead of defaulting to iMessage or Phone. You can currently use third-party apps with Siri but you have to specify “Send this message via WhatsApp.”

For example, if an iPhone user always messages another person via WhatsApp, Siri will automatically launch WhatsApp, rather than iMessage. It will decide which service to use based on interactions with specific contacts. Developers will need to enable the new Siri functionality in their apps. This will be expanded later to phone apps for calls as well.

This Fall, HomePod Will Have Ambient Sounds, Multi-User Mode

· Andrew Orr · Link

Apple didn’t mention the HomePod on stage yesterday, but Benjamin Mayo reports that a product refresh will appear later this fall.

A new forthcoming feature is called Ambient Sounds. This will allow users to easily play white noise sounds on their HomePods, including ocean waves, birdsong, rainstorms, and more. Right now, users are forced to AirPlay from another iOS device to easily play relaxing background audio on HomePod. Ambient Sounds will make this a first-party feature, fully integrated with Siri.

If Apple ever comes out with a cheaper HomePod, I’d probably buy one just for the ambient sounds.