By processing requests locally, Siri will gain speed and privacy

Siri will now be able to process voice recognition directly on iPads and iPhones equipped with the Neural Engine. Apple says this novelty should make its voice assistant faster to perform the tasks requested and it would keep some data private.

Apple Siri will process offline speech recognition.

Apple Siri will process offline speech recognition. // Source: Apple

Apple has devoted a whole part of its WWDC 2021 to data protection. After a segment addressing the novelties in the field in emails and the Safari browser, the Apple brand stopped on its famous voice assistant, Siri.

The brand presented some particularly interesting additions to better protect user data, but only on devices with the Neural Engine, that is to say for the time of iPhone and iPad (Siri is available on all devices Apple). “Siri is designed to process as much data as possible on devices, so as to keep your information private.”, explains Erik Neuenschwander, director of the user privacy department, during the keynote. Thanks to the power of the famous “Neural Engine”, Apple goes a little further by integrating voice recognition directly on the device.

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Response to the scandal

In practical terms, this means that the information Siri hears when you talk to it won’t leave your iPhone or iPad. Apple is responding directly to a scandal surrounding Siri in 2019 where we learned that third parties were listening to private information to improve the process.

Beyond data protection, Apple claims two significant advantages to processing speech recognition directly on the device. Firstly, most requests that do not require an Internet connection (launching an application, changing settings, etc.) can therefore be carried out in offline mode. Second, Apple says requests should pick up speed.

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Siri is not the iPhone yet

It is difficult to predict the number of operations that will be performed directly on the Apple phone or tablet. Be careful with the nuance: Apple says that more and more actions will be performed by the machine and that they will no longer go through the cloud. On the other hand, the brand does not say either that all information and actions will be handled independently of the servers. In other words, offline operation is not yet fully developed.

The promise is therefore a little less ambitious than that of Google Assisant during its Google I / O 2019. The Mountain View firm then announced that its assistant would now work entirely locally, without connection to its servers. Note that this is true only in the English version of Google Assisant.

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