Tuesday, June 15, 2021

iOS 15: On-Device Siri

Christian Zibreg:

By running speech recognition directly on the device rather than continuing to rely on the cloud for speech-to-text processing, Siri now runs much faster simply because you don’t have to wait for it to finish talking to the cloud just so she could understand what you’re saying.

Now Apple’s digital assistant is much snappier for requests that don’t require online sources! Also, Siri on iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 takes advance of on-device personalization, which lets its speech-recognition engine and understanding improve as you use your device.


With Siri’s speech-recognition engine processing the audio of your request without uploading it to Apple’s servers, your privacy actually increases when using offline Siri.

Finally we get back offline voice control, which—since Siri was added in 2011—has only worked when Siri was disabled. Aside from improving performance and reliability, this should also reduce cellular data usage. Unfortunately, one of the main things I do with Siri is make reminders, and despite seemingly not requiring any Internet data lookup, that is apparently not one of the features available for offline use.

Mitchell Clark:

Apple processing Siri requests on-device should help its users be more confident about the privacy of their data: back in 2019, we learned that contractors were listening to some Siri requests, something that wouldn’t happen if those requests were being handled by your phone alone. While Apple eventually tried to make that situation right by being more transparent and making Siri recordings opt-in, handling more Siri requests on the phone is a good way to make the service a little more trustworthy.


2 Comments RSS · Twitter

Oh my it has been so frustrating when I'm asking a clearly local request only to wait until Siri times out and says she can't handle it. This will be so nice.

> Finally we get back offline voice control

When this announced, I realized that not only is there this old feature called Voice Control (introduced in iOS 3 and then apparently never updated much after Siri launched in iOS 5), but there's been a _different_ "Voice Control" since iOS 13, and to make that a bit less confusing, the original one is now called "Classic Voice Control" in… some? most? places.


* Classic Voice Control: looks a bit like Siri used to, with a blurry full-screen interface where you can say certain things (but very limited compared to Siri). Originally intended as a handsfree driving mode, I think. Gets invoked by holding the side button — if you have Siri explicitly set not to be invoked that way.
* Siri
* Voice Control: the thing where you can just talk, with things like "Show me what to say", "Show grid", etc. Chiefly an accessibility feature.

I wonder if Classic Voice Control still exists in 15? It seems these Siri improvements make it largely moot (and if Apple brands something "classic", they're saying "boy, we wish we could kill this already").

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