Apple answers questions about users’ privacy with “Hey Siri” and “Live Photos”
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Apple introduced a couple of new features including “Hey Siri” and “Live Photos.” You must be concerned about these features if you really care about privacy and data security. Apple just cleared the air in a mail to Tech Crunch.
First of all, “Hey Siri” is an optional feature, and it completely depends on whether you want it or not. You can keep it inactive forever. Earlier, “Hey Siri” feature could be activated only when the phone was plugged in, but no longer now. “Hey Siri” in iPhone 6s and 6s plus works anytime at your command. Just say the phrase “Hey Siri” and Siri gets activated. So what does it mean? Siri is always listening to you or recording voice or sending/loading it on server? No, it’s not like that.
When you activate “Hey Siri” feature first time, you need to record your voice. So next time when you say “Hey Siri” it matches the voice recorded at initial setup and gets activated. Siri compares the audio continuously from the microphone to compare against the pattern, of your personal way of saying ‘Hey Siri’. This is done to prevent your phone to trigger “Hey Siri” feature on others command. Now Siri would have the ability to recognize its master voice.
Nothing gets recorded/heard until to say the phrase “Hey Siri.” It just means that Siri is always in sleep mode unless you wake it up. If you decide to turn off “Hey Siri” feature, all the data stored will be deleted, and you will have to start it from the scratch.
There is another feature “Live Photos” that could also bug you in terms of privacy, because it starts recording once the camera is turned on. Yes, Apple says that live photo features starts recording once you launch the camera app, but it happens locally. It doesn’t save anything unless the press the camera button. Once you press camera button, it saves 1.5 seconds live image with sound before the snapshot and 1.5 seconds after it.
This process runs locally, and your photos or videos don’t go anywhere unless you share it yourself. We treat privacy and security of Live Photos the same that we do for existing Photos and Videos. They don’t leave the device for any reason unless you purposely share it or elect to use iCloud, Apple says.