Apple is taking Siri offline with iOS 15. At the WWDC, Apple announced that Siri will now be able to recognise speech and process many requests on-device without needing an internet connection. Similar to how Google Assistant works for device-oriented tasks such as turning on the flashlight, Siri on your iPhone will begin taking such orders and not need the internet for them. Apple said the on-device speech recognition will happen in a secure space, thereby protecting user privacy.
The audio recordings that will be sent to Siri are likely not to be stored and shared with third parties, contrary to the requests that Siri accepts when connected to the internet. Apple has previously been criticised for sharing Siri audio recordings with third-party reviewers to check the accuracy of the voice assistant. However, a lot many times these recordings contain sensitive information about the user that ideally should not even reach Apple. With iOS 15, that is going to happen, but only to some extent. However, Apple already gives an opt-in feature for recordings.
The biggest advantage of having Siri work offline is the faster speed. Right now on iPhone devices with iOS 14, Siri relies on the internet to process requests, and because of that, Siri may experience a delay should there be a spotty connection. With iOS 15, Siri will not require the internet for a variety of tasks. This also means that even if the internet is available, Siri will choose to perform these tasks on the device. According to Apple, things such as setting the timer, launching an app, music playback, and setting an alarm will be supported on Siri without the internet. But complicated tasks such as dictation or fetching some result from the internet or a candid conversation with Siri would still require an internet connection.
Apple has also thrown in a number of privacy improvements to Siri. And these privacy updates are coming to the entire operating system. Things such as Hide My Email and Private Relay will be available to users in iOS 15, as a part of Mail Privacy Protection and iCloud+. iOS 15 also has "app privacy reports" inside the Settings that tell the user which privacy setting was used by an app along with the frequency.
iOS 15 is now available to download as developer beta on a number of eligible iPhone and iPod devices, starting right from the iPhone 6s. A wider release, however, will happen around the iPhone launch in September.
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