According to Apple, in 2019, less than 1% of Siri’s daily activations were sent to contractors whose job it was to determine whether it had been activated accidentally or on purpose. So even back then, only a small number of snippets were used to try and improve Siri’s diction.
But as of today, Apple’s terms of service say the company can collect and store details about how users use its services, including search queries. And even with that in mind,
is actually the company that respects your privacy the most, especially compared to Google, Facebook and Amazon.
These three take just about anything you knowingly or unknowingly give them and sell it to advertisers, who in turn use that data to sell you things you might actually want to buy.
Online privacy is a mess, and we won’t get into the ethics of it all, but rather have fun with Siri. We’ll try phrases that could trigger accidental eavesdropping, and therefore potentially transmit your private conversations to Apple without your knowledge.
Because despite the fact that the name “Siri” is chosen wisely because it doesn’t rhyme or sound like many other words or names in English, the virtual assistant can still hear things wrong.
“Hey, seriously?” – Works 1 out of 5 times
Obviously, it all depends on the clarity of your speech and your particular dialect. But in my case, Siri on my Apple Watch starts listening eagerly about 1 in 5 times when I say that phrase. And I say it a lot. Are there others who have said it vocally and almost involuntarily when something is wrong?
“Hey, sir! – Works 5 out of 5 times
For some reason, I can say “Hey, sir!” near my watch and Siri would still appear and start listening. “Monsieur” doesn’t have an “i” at the end, and I’m clearly not saying an “i”, so it’s confusing, but here we go.
You better not be at fancy events where people call each other gentlemen and ladies, because your Apple Watch could easily go off all the time, listening to those conversations on yachts, and maybe most importantly – wasting that precious battery.
“Hey Terry! – Works 1 out of 5 times
If you know people named Terry, Cherry, Berry, Ciri, mostly based on your inflection, you can definitely pronounce them in a way that would make Siri straighten up and start listening to the rest of that conversation.
It’s quite funny, but not nearly as easy to achieve as with the two previous ones, at least not with my dialect. But I’m sure you’ll find your own phrases if you examine it, and we can all be sure there’s definitely more. Especially if we expand our search to different languages…
How to turn off “Hey, Siri” so it stops listening all the time (saving you battery life!)
As mentioned earlier, Siri is by far the virtual assistant you should worry about the least when it comes to privacy, especially compared to Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Amazon Alexa.
But if you want to stop it from listening on both your iPhone and Apple Watch, at least to save battery, I’ll tell you how to do it without losing the useful functionality of Siri.
You only have to trigger it with the press of a button instead of saying a phrase, so the chances of accidental triggers are reduced to an absolute minimum.
To stop Siri from listening to “Hey, Siri” on your iPhone: Open the Settings app and navigate to Siri and searchthen touch Listen to “Hey Siri” to turn it off. You can still trigger Siri at any time by long-pressing the power key on your iPhone.
To stop Siri from listening to “Hey, Siri” on your Apple Watch: Tap the top right button to see all your Apple Watch apps, then go to Settings (it’s a gear icon). Scroll down to find Siri and press it, then press Listen to “Hey Siri” to turn it off. You can still trigger Siri on your Apple Watch by long pressing the top right button.
Except now your watch and smartphone microphones won’t be on all the time, waiting to hear “Hey, Siri” or something similar.
Do you have examples of your choice, with Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant?
Let us know in the comments if you’ve discovered any fun examples that might trigger your virtual assistant of choice by accident, so your fellow tech-savvy colleagues know about them.
And who knows, maybe the tech companies behind these virtual assistants will see these examples and use them to improve their voice recognition, so we can all be more comfortable in private interactions around our smart devices.