Apple's Greg Joswiak on Siri: We Deliver a Personalized Experience Without Treating You as a Product

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Ahead of the launch of iOS 11, Apple VP of marketing Greg Joswiak sat down with several publications to talk about Siri, the personal assistant built into all major Apple devices. His interview with Wired was published last week, and today, Fast Company published its interview, in which Joswiak talks Siri and privacy, among other topics.

It's been long believed that Apple's Siri development has been hindered by the company's deep commitment to privacy, but according to Joswiak, privacy, respect for user data, and an intelligent AI can co-exist.


"I think it's a false narrative," he told Fast Company. "We're able to deliver a very personalized experience... without treating you as a product that keeps your information and sells it to the highest bidder. That's just not the way we operate."

Much of Apple's Siri functionality is done on-device, rather than in the cloud like other services. In Apple's 2017 software updates, that's shifting slightly with the company planning to allow Siri to communicate across devices to learn more about users. Still, many things, like Siri's ability to find photos with a specific photo or date are powered on-device.
"Your device is incredibly powerful, and it's even more powerful with each generation," Joswiak said. "And with our focus on privacy, we're able to really take advantage of exploiting that power with things like machine learning on your device to create an incredible experience without having to compromise your data."
Apple does use the cloud to answer requests and to train Siri, but it strips all user identifiable data. All Siri requests are stripped of user ID and supplied with a random request ID, with the request then encrypted and sent to the cloud. Apple stores six months of voice recordings to allow its voice recognition engine to get a better understanding of users. A second copy of recordings can be stored for up to two years, also with the aim of improving Siri.

"We leave out identifiers to avoid tying utterances to specific users so we can do a lot of machine learning and a lot of things in the cloud without having to know that it came from [the user]," said Joswiak.

Alongside Joswiak, Apple's Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software weighed in on Siri's future in an email to Fast Company. "Siri is no longer just a voice assistant," he said. "Siri on-device intelligence is streamlining everyday interactions with our devices."

He went on to say that with iOS 11, macOS High Sierra, tvOS 11, and watchOS 4, users will "experience even more Siri functionality." He went on to say that in the "years to come," Siri functionality will be "ever more integral" to the core user experience on all of the company's platforms, from Mac to iPhone to Apple TV.

Federighi and Joswiak's full Siri interview, which provides more insight into the inner workings of Siri and Apple's commitment to privacy, can be read over at Fast Company.

Article Link: Apple's Greg Joswiak on Siri: We Deliver a Personalized Experience Without Treating You as a Product
 

thekeyring

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In my opinion, Siri's faults do not stem from it's lack of profile on me. I rarely say things to Siri like "phone my wife" and it not know who my wife is. It just doesn't need my personal data for what I ask it.

"Apple stores six months of voice recordings to allow its voice recognition engine to get a better understanding of users" - If Apple's stance on privacy meant they wouldn't do this, I could see there being a problem, but they are storing our queries to improve voice recognition!

I think Siri has a far worse rep than it deserves. I even tried asking it "Tell me about the latest Samsung phones". It gives me web results - the top one was a link to Samsung's website. If Apple displayed only the top result, and formatted it like traditional Siri answers, and not like a web search, people would give Apple more credit for Siri's abilities. This seems to be one of Google's biggest advantages with Google Now.
 

Applebot1

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Jan 4, 2014
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Siri so much potential when iPhone 4S came out. For me just doesn't seem to have evolved apart from it's quicker to respond due to better cellular and general internet connectivity.

Apple really had something but competition has caught up and overtaken in many cases.

One of the biggest mistakes imo is TC refusal to bring out a home device like Echo years ago because, 'we always have our iPhone on us.'

Home Pod will soon be here and I expect Siri to be much better due to the hardware but Amazon and Google are already saturating the market with great products that are cheap.
 

thekeyring

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Cant wait for a real AI version of Siri. One that feels and acts more human like. My guess is that it will take a couple more years before we get there.
It will arrive faster than Alexa, which somehow has been given a free pass, despite not actually using any AI. (Developers must code exactly the queries they would like users to say in order for Alexa to understand them.)
 

Chupa Chupa

macrumors G5
Jul 16, 2002
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First TC statement about Apple prices and influence and now this. I do think Apple Execs must have had a communal shrooming or something last weekend instead of prepping for tomorrow. Some really ill-timed statements going around.
 
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axantas

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Ummm, in what way are those two things mutually exclusive?
They are not exclusive, but, to be honest, I do trust Apple - it is one of their "key selling arguments", so I kind of believe them. They have a lot to lose if this goes wrong.

I don't trust Google so much though, and Microsoft - don't know...
 

big-ted

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Feb 24, 2013
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Siri on-device intelligence is streamlining everyday interactions with our devices

No it isn't it is just making interaction frustrating when it doesn't work and you can't ask a second related question

The only way to streamline interaction is to disable Siri
 
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kdarling

macrumors P6
Ahead of the launch of iOS 11, Apple VP of marketing Greg Joswiak sat down with several publications to talk about Siri,
When you have to send out your execs to spin things, you're in trouble.

Good stuff speaks for itself.

"I think it's a false narrative," he told Fast Company. "We're able to deliver a very personalized experience... without treating you as a product that keeps your information and sells it to the highest bidder. That's just not the way we operate."
Very clever. Tell a truth, but not the whole truth, and throw in some innuendo.

Because Google doesn't sell our info to the highest bidder either.

Just like Apple does with iAds, Google sells anonymous ad slots. They would never sell our personalized data, because then it becomes useless. That's why they keep it secret.

In return for the money they make selling such anonymous slots, Google gives us great services. In return for the money Apple makes selling such anonymous slots PLUS high profit hardware... ??

"We leave out identifiers to avoid tying utterances to specific users so we can do a lot of machine learning and a lot of things in the cloud without having to know that it came from [the user]," said Joswiak.
Yes, you can try, but the resulting difference in PERSONALIZED ability is plain to everyone. For a good PERSONAL assistant, it always makes far more sense to learn about each specific person. Especially context.

Btw, anyone can turn off Google's voice storage and delete it, using your Google dashboard any time you want. I tried it once as an experiment, and my recognition was immediately worse for a few weeks while Google's servers relearned me. It was not fun, and I'm not going to do it again.
 
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chetttos

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Aug 4, 2014
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People can't understand what it means Apple's care for privacy. I use Siri every day and it's becoming very useful even tough is not perfect, I'm willing to help make her better and stop complaining about it.
 
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