In the summer of 2019 Apple’s program for the improvement of Siri came to light. At, people from another outsourced company listened to audios of requests to Siri by anonymous users. The problem was that these people were not aware that they were authorizing the treatment by Apple. It was activated in the iOS settings but it was not an express consent. A few days later Apple decided to suspend this program. From Applesfera We have already talked about the convenience of a new approach for this type of improvement programs, both limiting it to users who give their express consent and offering them compensation for sharing their data.

Now from Applesfera we know that Apple has carried out a new Siri improvement program totally different from the previous one, also in Spain, in which hundreds of users have voluntarily yielded, one by one, their audios of queries to Siri, being able to discard those that they do not want to share. And they have been rewarded for it.

10 requests per day for two weeks

“100 households” are those who have participated in this study, ranging from one to several people. It took place between July and September with participants from several Spanish cities, since there was no face-to-face activity and all procedures were carried out online.

Participants received what Apple calls a “Take Home Kit” (THK), consisting of a HomePod mini, an Apple 4K or HD TV, a three-month subscription to Apple Music, another three months to Apple TV + and several sheets with instructions.

Apple does not ask for exact consultations, but rather lets the participants make what they consider in their own words, it limits itself to giving them a superficial guide

Upon receipt of this kit, participants had to register both devices with their Apple ID and then install profiles on them as well as do some extra setup steps. Once completed, Siri queries on the HomePod mini and Apple TV are now recorded in an app that appears on the iPhone called “SiriSpeech”, which was already detected a few months ago without knowing details about this study. Each participant must use a fictitious name to avoid being recognized.

From there, the study organizers ask participants to make “a minimum of 10 requests to Siri for each participating member in their family, per day.” That is to say, no less than 140 requests during the two weeks of the study.

A participating member explains to us that “the study coordinator gave us some guidelines on things that we could ask Siri, such as the result of our favorite team, the weather, etc., but in a very general way. They did not dictate anything to us. exactly, I understand that because the improvement program seeks to improve questions asked naturally by users “.

At the end of each day, each person has to access the SiriSpeech app and review the audios of their requests to Siri on the HomePod mini and Apple TV for that day. They can discard them, and in that case not be shared with Apple; or agree to send them, a process that requires two-step verification to prevent accidental shipments. The organization of the study also stresses that it is important that in this step no audio is sent that includes anything delicate, embarrassing, confidential or that belongs to people outside the study or to children under 13 years of age, even in the background.

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As the devices that are loaned are for the home, everyone who lives in it can participate as long as they sign the consent form. There are not many more requirements, beyond the obvious ones or to have an iPhone 6s or higher (for the compatibility of iOS 14 to run the SiriSpeech app), as well as a TV with an HDMI port. Audios shared with Apple are anonymous, but paired with a unique identifier that also includes gender, age group, mother tongue, country, and region where the person grew up.

Ten years of Siri: the decade when users put voice assistants on their site

Gifts worth more than 340 euros in exchange for 140 requests to Siri

After the two weeks that the study lasted, participants were able to keep the devices provided by Apple and they received instructions to remove the profiles that allowed audios of inquiries to be sent to Siri.

These devices, together with the subscriptions that make up the pack, add up to a total value of 342.94 euros (199 + 99 + 29.97 + 14.97). If we take as a reference the 140 requests to Siri that each participant has to make at least, and ignoring that this is not the cost that Apple has to pay for it but its market value, we are left with the amount of 2.45 euros. That is the amount in which Apple values ​​each query to Siri that they authorize it to treat in order to improve the voice assistant service.

53 commands to take advantage of Siri from any Apple device

In the legal conditions of the study they do not have this benefit as a benefit or compensation. “It is not expected that you will experience any direct benefit from participating in this Study, with the exception of THK”, we read in the legal text that each participant receives.

As we have learned since ApplesferaThere is no open form to register for this program, but rather the company that carries them out selects profiles that it knows previously or those who know participants from previous studies.

Error message when trying to open the downloaded app using the study access URL.

Error message when trying to open the downloaded app using the study access URL.

We have also tried to download the iOS application that allows us to start the study process, but we have not been able to open it as we do not have the profile that allows its use installed. In April 2020, a few months after the scandal over the original Siri enhancement program broke, it was made public that Apple had bought Voysis, a startup specializing in Artificial Intelligence with the improvement of voice assistants in its track record. At least for now, the human factor is still essential like the one in these studies.

From Applesfera We have contacted Apple to learn more details about this study, without having received any statements about it or denying its existence.