Question of the Month – October 2016

Question: I use my iPhone’s voice dictation and search quite frequently, should I be concerned about my privacy?

Answer: Apple’s newer products include voice recognition functionality. Once this functionality is activated, you can tap on the voice activation icon that appears next to the display keypad and speak your message instead of typing it.

To use the voice recognition functionality, you will need to be online to access the cloud-based dictation software that Apple uses to convert your speech into text. As such, whatever you say into your iPhone or tablet will be uploaded to Apple’s cloud-based servers to be translated into text. This happens at the speed of light, so you probably won’t even be aware that the process is taking place.

While all this is well and good, some users have expressed concerns about the fact that Apple stores the dictated words after they have been translated. In the absence of any solid information from Apple about what actually happens with this information, there may be grounds to these concerns. After all, at the very least, even if Apple wasn’t reading and using this information, it could be hacked by someone who will. Some companies have gone as far as to completely prohibit their employees from using the voice recognition technology.

The bottom line is this: Using Apple’s voice recognition functionality is pretty similar to using Google; everything you type is stored. To that end, if you’re concerned about your digital footprint and the information you’re sharing, your best bet would be to ditch the voice dictation feature altogether.