How much bandwidth does Siri consume?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by CrashX, Mar 25, 2016.

  1. CrashX, Mar 25, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016

    CrashX macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2012
    I was told by a Genius, who just happens to hold down a low paying job at Apple, that Siri must be connected to decipher/transcribe what I command of her - so does anyone happen to know if this is true, and how much bandwidth and battery power Siri consumes?

    Also, with Live Photos, does the iPhone use a proximity sensor to record via my camera just prior to me snapping a photo, or is the camera just always on?

    I realize that Apple is locked in a ferocious battle with the FBI to protect our private privacy - but I am genuinely concerned with what would appear to otherwise imply that the microphone and camera on the new iPhone I'll be receiving are ALWAYS on.

    Even though he was a sharply uniformly dressed Genius, having thought differently enough to style himself like all of the other Geniuses I encountered in the same immaculately beautiful store in a Mall where Geniuses congregate - presumably because it's most efficient? - I'm not certain he actually was a Genius?

    This heresy on my part came about when I presented him with a yellowed power cord for my retina MacBook Pro, explaining that I was concerned that it might be defective. He then accused me of using a yellow highlighter to try to trick him into giving me a new power cord to replace the cord I'd spent a great deal of time presumably yellowing with my highlighter. I then felt obligated to just silently stare down the Genius until he apologized and went into the back to provide me a free replacement for my defective power cord.

    Sarcasm aside - have any gurus actually measured how much bandwidth Siri might "eat up" needlessly if I keep the microphone on, and is the camera also constantly recording? Jokes aside, I'd really like to know how that actually works - because even if Apple is our salvation from our own government, it still seems odd to me that the microphone and camera might always be on to allow for Live Photos and instant Hey Siri activation.

    I'm not interesting enough for anyone to waste their time spying on me... But, not knowing how it works, it seems I'd be needlessly burning through both bandwidth and battery life should I not disable those features.

    Thanks for any advice.

    Disclaimer: I've owned Apples since the Apple ///, but I have run into problems both times I've had to visit the Geniuses hanging out at their Bar with the Geniuses behaving in a condescending manner - so I'm not hating on Apple, just making light of their marketing approach and the sometimes hilariously unintended effect their silly "Genius" labeling actually seems to have on their employees [wink wink, nudge nudge emoticon thing implying that only you and I are in on how clever I think I'm being].
  2. mateo124 macrumors regular

    Oct 15, 2011
    Is the salary of a Genius relevant to your question?

    To answer the part about the microphone always listening; the phone itself continually listens, but for the keyword "hey Siri", at which point it connects to the servers for the Siri requests. It doesn't consume data until it hears those words.
  3. CrashX thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2012
    Thanks, mateo - I was just making light of the odd situations I've found myself in visiting Apple stores since they introduced that silliness.

    I was on a 300MB data plan with my iPhone 4, which I rarely used. In all seriousness, I'm actually concerned about how much bandwidth Siri consumes. Thanks for letting me know that she's not constantly querying the Apple servers all the time if I enable instant "Hey Siri" - but how much battery life am I losing because obviously the mic is constantly on to allow that?

    And when she does query, how much bandwidth is she using? And how is the camera activated so that it captures "Live Photos" prior to me taking the shot? I'd assume that the camera app must be engaged, but I don't know - and I know that I already own a few 3rd party Camera Apps and not sure what "rights" I'm granting them? - I'll be new to both Siri and LivePhotos when I replace my iPhone 4 with the SE that's on its way.

    I'm just bored visiting my Mom for Easter, so not intending to be "mean snarky" - just light joking about my odd experiences at the Apple Bar.

    "Don't condescend me, man."

    Seriously no one else has run into that? I was just amused with the Geniuses until the one accused me of using a highlighter on my power cord to defraud him and Apple. I'm normally affable - but that kid actually riled me. Sorry to run off on a tangent again. Thanks for your patience.

    And thanks for any additional info on LivePhotos and always-on Siri as they impact bandwidth limits and battery life.
  4. CrashX thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2012
    NT - THANK YOU! I love Ars Technica and they did an awesome job of breaking it down.

    When I get my SE, I'm just gonna bump up to the 2GB plan and just take advantage of everything the SE has to offer, and see how it pans out. I've been with AT&T long enough that they SHOULD most likely give me a pass or help me out if I happen to "bust" my limit.

    Unless they catch me with my yellow highlighter - then the jig is up...

    I'll check Ars to see if they have any info on that LivePhotos bit - but thanks again. Everyone's always extremely helpful here!

    Oh, if anyone happens to have a sec and some experience with it - how bandwidth-crazy are Google Maps and (for instance) Apple streaming muzak on a road trip?
  5. 12vElectronics macrumors 68040


    Jul 19, 2013
    What does their salary have to do with anything? Stopped reading after that comment.
  6. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    Let's put Live Photos in perspective. You're viewing the live output of the camera on your display, from the moment you open the Camera app until you close it. Live Photos temporarily stores the the most recent half-second of that viewfinder display, as video. If you click the shutter, that half-second is saved. If you do not, it is deleted (save a frame, delete a frame, save a frame, delete a frame...). Does all this save/delete activity use power? Yes, but it's a tiny amount compared to the power consumed by that backlit display.

    Is Apple surreptitiously recording video/still images when the camera app is closed? No. We'd be aware of the additional battery drain, the drain on system performance as the camera adjusted exposure and focus, the usage of cellular/wifi bandwidth if it was relaying those images to Big Brother (and the battery power to transmit that data)... Could Big Brother be watching? Certainly, if Big Brother had control over the operating system, etc. If so, all the app developers and hackers who pore over these things have yet to find a bit (or byte) of evidence.

    Yes, if Hey Siri is engaged, then your microphone is constantly on, awaiting the summons. Does that consume significant power? Again, not nearly as much as the display. The mic is only one of many sensors and functions in the iPhone that is constantly gathering and analyzing data, including the accelerometer, GPS, cellular and wifi radios... Even so, on models earlier than iPhone 6s/6s Plus, Hey Siri is only engaged when the iPhone is connected to charger.

    As to the Geniuses apparel? Store staff wears a variety of uniforms, depending on their job role. It's not the employee's choice. I'm not sure of current uniform, but the staff that support Apple's business/enterprise customers have traditionally dressed in a more upscale/business-like uniform. If not engaged with a business/enterprise customer, you may find them assisting the general public. If someone appears in an Apple store wearing something that appears to be an Apple uniform? They'd better be a store employee. Otherwise, they'll be escorted off premises.

    People have made light of the "Genius" label over the years. After all, do they really possess genius IQs? (I'd expect some do - not everyone achieves to the peak of their potential.) Genius is simply one employee classification amidst the other workers in the store. I would hope the label does instill some pride and self-confidence in those workers, just as it's intended to instill confidence in the customers who come into the store. While they aren't paid anything close to what Apple's engineers in Cupertino make, Geniuses are certainly decently paid by retail/repair business standards, and are near the top of the pyramid at the store.

    What might a psychologist say of a person who feels the need to belittle the intellect/abilities of other individuals?
  7. lordofthereef macrumors G5


    Nov 29, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Wonderful response above. I just wanted to add, in terms of live photos, that, as I understand it, the way digital photo capture works is when your viewfinder is open you are constantly recording that image into ram anyway and then just dumping it constantly too. All the live photo is doing is taking that information and storing it for you permanently, should you choose this.

    In terms of apple store arrogance you should absolutely write a letter to Apple. You'll even likely get a response so long as this nicely worded and doesn't sound arrogant itself. I have a store near me that I avoid. My wife happens to work in that city but the managers are all complete ******s. Conversely, I have taken my business to a neighboring store (I'm lucky to have four apple stores within about a 30 minute drive from home) and have had nothing but cheerful and helpful service.
  8. CrashX, Mar 25, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016

    CrashX thread starter macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2012
    Thanks for all of your thoughtful and helpful responses.

    My display is normally turned off when my phone is "resting" - so I'll just run it with "Hey Siri" turned on, then try it with it turned off. Thanks for the advice.

    As for the Genius Bar, it's an awesome marketing ploy, and I can appreciate it. I'm just goofing on the concept, didn't mean anything negative toward the Apple store employees as a whole. I love Brad Pitt's stoner line in True Romance, "Don't condescend me, man."

    I'm generally an easy-going guy. But Apple products are ridiculously user-friendly, so I can imagine how spending your day trying to explain the simplest concepts to people might give anyone a superiority complex. My Mom lights into me pretty well when I try to explain anything about her iPad to her - "I'm NOT an idiot!"

    I was just rambling - and thought it was hilarious that the "Genius" actually accused me of using a highlighter on my power cord to make it yellow. Except I was in a bad mood having waited 20 minutes, surrounded by a sea of hipsters in the Austin store. It was insanely busy, so whatever.

    Fwiw, psychologists are frightened of me - that's why they send me to a Psychiatrist. But sadly, he still hasn't broken me from spending endless hours highlighting my power cords. So he just straps on my helmet and leaves me to it.

    But he did give me a gold star for curbing my time with my face buried in my ever-expanding phone. But it just AMAZES me - how it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and thinner and thinner. I'm mesmerized. Luckily, it only costs me around $3 grand a year, what with my brand new iPhone every year and the cellular charges. HUGE savings over the heroin, cocaine, and hookers. But I do miss my Genius Mistress - she's the one who got me into highlighting my power cord. Cruel, but oh so divine...

    Okay, slapping my helmet back on. I feel the need...

    Thanks to everyone, and have a hippety hoppety grand ol' Easter time this weekend! My highlighter really comes in useful painting the eggs - for those terribly interested (meaning everyone of course - who wouldn't be?), the dye doesn't color the part of the egg that you highlight. It's awesome fun!

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