Alex Hern, reporting for The Guardian:
Apple contractors regularly hear confidential medical information, drug deals, and recordings of couples having sex, as part of their job providing quality control, or “grading”, the company’s Siri voice assistant, the Guardian has learned.
Although Apple does not explicitly disclose it in its consumer-facing privacy documentation, a small proportion of Siri recordings are passed on to contractors working for the company around the world. They are tasked with grading the responses on a variety of factors, including whether the activation of the voice assistant was deliberate or accidental, whether the query was something Siri could be expected to help with and whether Siri’s response was appropriate […]
“There’s not much vetting of who works there, and the amount of data that we’re free to look through seems quite broad. It wouldn’t be difficult to identify the person that you’re listening to, especially with accidental triggers – addresses, names and so on.
This is unacceptable.
Matthew Cassinelli on his blog:
Below is a table of the all the new Automation triggers in Siri Shortcuts. This list is not finalized as the Shortcuts app is still in beta, however it is as current as possible.
I can’t wait to start experimenting with the new Shortcut actions and HomeKit once all my devices are on iOS/iPadOS/tvOS/HomePodOS/watchOS 13.
Benjamin Mayo, for 9to5Mac:
Apple has seeded a private beta for HomePod to Apple corporate and (some) retail employees for a while. iGeneration is reporting that the HomePod OS 12.0 beta, presumably set to be released alongside iOS 12 in the fall, has several major new features for Siri on the HomePod.
The beta reportedly includes phone call features, allowing the user to start and answer calls from the HomePod, as well as Find My iPhone Siri command, and perhaps most dramatically — support for multiple timers are apparently on the cards.
I talk to my HomePod several times per day, just to control the music being played. I really hope Apple figures out how to minimize the need to constantly repeat “Hey Siri” — this is currently the most frustrating element of my experience with this particular assistant. I would love feature parity between platforms too, with the ability to hand off queries to my iPad or iPhone, whichever I happen to be closest too or pick up first.
This is but one example of the hundreds, if not thousands, of hidden features inside iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and Siri. There are so many of these right now, that I don’t know a single person who would be aware of all of them. I read one of my own tips, which I published a few years ago, and was amazed that something like that was possible, and that I did not remember it.
P.S. If you’re on macOS and don’t know the following keyboard shortcuts, make sure to memorise them — they’re really useful:
Jack Nicas and Cade Metz, for The New York Times:
Apple has hired Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence, John Giannandrea, a major coup in its bid to catch up to the artificial intelligence technology of its rivals.
Apple said on Tuesday that Mr. Giannandrea will run Apple’s “machine learning and A.I. strategy,” and become one of 16 executives who report directly to Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook.
Perhaps iPhone-Siri will be able to talk to HomePod-Siri and Apple-TV-Siri next year and be able to control them. Or know how to set more than one timer at the least.
I discovered an interesting tidbit regarding setting the HomePod’s volume:
- The buttons on top of the HomePod change the volume in 5% increments on each tap.
- The voice command “Hey Siri, louder / quieter”, “Hey Siri, increase / decrease the volume”, etc. changes the volume in 10% increments.
Also, Siri really shouldn’t need to hear the “Hey” in “Hey Siri” every single time I need something from her.
“Siri, just do it.”
Stephen Hawking – who died aged 76 – battled motor neurone disease to become one of the most respected and best-known scientists of his age.
Today, we all lost a truly great person.
When I learned about Stephen Hawking’s passing on the radio today, I asked Siri how old he was. She answered:
Stephen Hawking died today at age 76.
I was of course saddened by the news of his death, but I was also surprised that Siri got the answer.
Nick Heer, on Pixel Envy:
What’s clear to me is that the Siri of eight years ago was, in some circumstances, more capable than the Siri of today. That could simply be because the demo video was created in Silicon Valley, and things tend to perform better there than almost anywhere else. But it’s been eight years since that was created, and over seven since Siri was integrated into the iPhone. One would think that it should be at least as capable as it was when Apple bought it.
I’m currently playing around with Siri a lot more than I used to and I find it baffling that after so many years, she still can’t do so many things which seem natural and obvious. Examples attached: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Basically, I expect so much more of her today, that she feels stupider than back in 2011, when she launched on the iPhone 4S.
Hey Siri, I see a little silhouetto of a man.
I first sat in stunned silence and listened, then laughed out loud. Make sure you get to the end!
Joe Rossignol writing for MacRumors:
Apple is widely rumored to be working on a Siri-based smart home device with a speaker, and Australian leaker Sonny Dickson has shared new details about its possible design and features on Twitter and with MacRumors.
I actually thought the ‘Apple Speaker’ with Siri on-board was dead and that the company would focus on just using the device closest to you, be that an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV.
Dickson was told Apple’s smart speaker could be unveiled at WWDC 2017 in early June, but as always, the company’s plans could change.
That would actually surprise me, especially since the iPads are still waiting for an update and the MacBook Adorable for a speed bump.
In the meantime, Siri still makes little sense in countries without language support, even for people who know English well enough.
‘Hey, Siri! What’s the population of Wrocław, Poland?’
Hmm… Well that’s an improvement! I genuinely did not expect it to catch my hometown’s name, especially since it’s not pronounced ‘rock-law’. Now Siri, please start understand foreign street addresses in a similar fashion!
Samsung has agreed to acquire Viv, an AI and assistant system co-founded by Dag Kittlaus, Adam Cheyer and Chris Brigham — who created Siri, which was acquired by Apple in 2010. The three left Apple in the years after the acquisition and founded Viv in 2012. Pricing information was not available, but we’ll check around.
Viv has been billed as a more extensible, powerful version of Siri.
Viv will continue to operate as an independent company that will provide services to Samsung and its platforms.
I don’t think Apple should have let them go, but then again, acquiring the same team for the second time seems ethically wrong.
So as I was hunting, Siri kept patiently telling me how to get to the airport. When I didn’t see a gas station after a few blocks worth of looking, I gave up and asked her for directions to the closest one.
“Starting route,” she replied. “Head north on Isenberg Street.”
This is why I couldn’t bring myself to read Steven Levy’s new article on how Apple is making great advances in machine learning. The iBrain is already inside my phone? No, not yet.
You see, when Siri told me to head north on Isenberg, I was traveling south on Isenberg. In that circumstance, “head north” is a stupid instruction to give.
Siri knew perfectly well I was going south on Isenberg. Not half a minute earlier, she’d been telling me how to turn off Isenberg to get to the interstate. And she’d been tracking my location continuously since I left the hotel. The context was there, but it wasn’t used.
Siri is still missing a new major motorway from its database in Poland. I reported it months ago. So somehow the above does not surprise me one bit.
Instead of integrating Siri as a swipe menu akin to the Mac’s Notification Center or as a full screen view like on the iPhone and even the iPad Pro, Siri for the Mac will live in the Mac’s Menu Bar. Similar to the Spotlight magnifying glass icon for search and notifications icon for Notification Center, a Siri icon in the top right corner of the menu bar will activate the voice control feature.
At last! I hope Siri also gains the ability to understand multiple languages in one sentence, eg. ‘Hey Siri, give me travel directions to Grande Anse des Salines’.
Siri on the Mac will have its own pane in System Preferences and users are said to also have the option to choose a keyboard shortcut for activating the service. Like with recent versions of iOS, users will be able to enable Siri at the first startup of OS X 10.12, according to sources. If the Mac running the new OS X version is plugged into power, a “Hey Siri” command will work much like with recent iPhone and iPad models.
That would be strange, especially considering the ‘Hey Siri’ works on the most recent iPhones and iPads without the devices needing to being plugged in.
Siri on CarPlay, however, is brilliant. It’s like having K.I.T.T. or J.A.R.V.I.S. or the computer from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” installed in your dashboard. You speak simple voice commands, like “Send a text” or “Find me a Starbucks” and Siri responds. It reads your texts and reads them mellifluously. Its machine brain understands your human diction — better, it seems, in a car.
I had the pleasure of driving a Golf R recently and the whole CarPlay experience is simply terrible. I don’t remember anything as bad—ever—since I started driving cars over twenty years ago. Siri is fine if you only use English, but until she can simultaneously read and listen in at least two languages, I’ll do anything and everything to avoid CarPlay in any future cars I might have.