iOS 13.2 Will Let You Delete Your Siri Audio History

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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

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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

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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.

Apple Rolls Out Smarter Web Answers for Spotlight Search

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Some Apple users are seeing smarter web answers when they use iOS Spotlight Search and Siri.

The new web answers appear to be a further expansion of this technology. If the statistics are not readily available from the knowledge database, it seems Apple is now using algorithms to crawl websites and find possible responses to questions.

I think this is great, and it might be the first front-facing results we’re seeing from Apple’s hiring of John Giannandrea.

Future Apple Headphones Could Tell Which Ear They’re In

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New patents reveal that future Apple headphones could tell which ear they’re in using machine learning.

Apple notes that “During operation, capacitive sensor electrodes may be used by the control circuitry in capturing capacitive sensor ear images that are processed by a machine learning classifier. The machine learning classifier may be used to determine whether the headphones are being worn in a reversed or unreversed orientation.

UN Report Says Making Siri Voice Female by Default is Sexist

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A report from the United Nations says that making virtual assistants like Siri have female voices by default is sexist.

As voice-powered technology reaches into communities that do not currently subscribe to Western gender stereotypes, including indigenous communities, the feminization of digital assistants may help gender biases to take hold and spread. Because Alexa, Cortana, Google Home and Siri are all female exclusively or female by default in most markets, women assume the role of digital attendant…

I think it’s a fair point.