Apple canceled plans to allow users to use Siri to make purchases due to privacy concerns

Three years ago, Apple discovered letting users use Siri to make purchases for apps and services, similar to how users could use Amazon’s Alexa to place orders online, but engineers scrapped the idea after privacy concerns, according to a new report released today by the company. the information.

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The report highlights how limited Apple engineers have access to how users use Apple services, such as Apple TV+ and Apple Maps. Apple’s strict privacy measures make it difficult for engineers to directly access usage data, causing concern that the company’s stringent privacy policy is stifling Apple’s services and making it difficult to compete with Google and others.

In the noteworthy news of the report, the information He reveals that in 2019, Apple explored the possibility of letting users use Siri‌ to make purchases, but then in the project, the team behind the effort had to abort the idea after privacy concerns.

Some of Apple’s proposed features never see the light of day due to privacy restrictions. In 2019, employees discovered if a customer could use Siri to buy apps and other services online using their voice, similar to the way Amazon customers buy products with Alexa, according to a person with direct knowledge of the project. The effort was held back in part by strict privacy rules that prevented Siri from associating someone’s Apple ID with their voice request. This person said the Apple media product team responsible for the project couldn’t find an alternative way to reliably authenticate users in order to bill them.

This isn’t the first time Apple’s privacy policy has limited what its engineers can do, according to the report. Engineers and employees working for Siri‌, the App Store, and even the Apple Card often have to “find creative or costly ways to make up for the lack of data access.”

One such innovative approach that Apple engineers came up with is differential privacy, which was first demonstrated by Apple’s Craig Federighi at WWDC 2016. In a technical overview of a PDF, Apple describes its implementation of differential privacy as enabling it to “get to know the user community” without recognizing individuals in the community. Differential Privacy changes the information that is shared with Apple before it leaves a user’s device so that Apple can never reproduce the real data.”

Even with Differential Privacy, however, and Apple’s attempt to collect as much user data as possible without making it traceable to specific users, engineers remain concerned and feel limited in what they can and cannot do, according to the report.

Despite these efforts, former Apple employees have said that Differential Privacy and other attempts to get around customer data limitations have had limited or mixed results and that it may be difficult for new employees to adapt to Apple’s strong privacy culture, which comes directly from CEO Tim. Cook and other senior vice presidents. Apple’s efforts to reduce the amount of customer data it collects are based on concerns that employees might try to look at the information for inappropriate reasons – the kind of known abuses that have occurred at Google and at Uber – or that hackers could compromise the data.

The report also highlights privacy concerns during the development of the Apple Watch. According to people who worked on the project mentioned in the report, features like Raise to Speak, which allows users to speak to ‌Siri‌ without the verbal “Hey ‌Siri‌” simply by raising their wrist, faced initial opposition due to concerns about microphone and acceleration data collection.