Apple has been in the news recently for using human contractors to listen to Siri voice recordings in order to help the company improve the service of the voice-activated assistant by seeing how Siri responds to user requests. The only way we can confirm the proper way to clear your Siri history is through a bit of text nestled in Apple’s Approach to Privacy page:
When you turn Siri and Dictation off, Apple will delete the User Data associated with your Siri identifier, and the learning process will start all over again. Unlike Google and Amazon, which give users the option of deleting each and every individual voice query sent to their servers, Apple does not have a similar option for its customers. According to the Apple iOS 12.3 security document, users’ voice recordings are saved for six months. Apple says this is done so that the “recognition system can utilize them to better understand the user’s voice.”
After six months, another copy is saved, without its identifier, for use by Apple in improving and developing Siri for up to two years. A small part of recordings, transcripts, and associated data without identifiers may continue to be used by Apple for ongoing improvement and quality assurance of Siri beyond two years.
What information is shared with Siri when you initiate a request?
The security document says some user information from the device is sent to the server when a request is initiated. “This includes information about the music library (song titles, artists, and playlists), the names of Reminders lists, and names and relationships that are defined in Contacts.”
Also, the user’s first and last name (from Contacts), along with a rough geographic location is also sent to the company’s server. Apple says this is being done to help Siri respond with the name or answer questions that need only an approximate location, such as those about the weather.
How to delete your Siri recordings from Apple servers?
If you want to delete any Siri recordings that might be on Apple servers though, here’s how you do it. It’s good that you’ll need to disable Siri from all Apple devices you use.
- Open Settings
- Scroll down to ‘Siri & Search’
- Toggle ‘Listen for “Hey Siri”‘ off
- Toggle ‘Press Side Button for Siri’ off
- Turn Siri off
A message will appear above the Turn Siri Off step that reads: “The information Siri uses to respond to your requests is also used for Dictation and will remain on Apple serves unless Dictation is also turned off. Turning off Siri on your iPhone will turn off Siri on your Apple Watch”.
As the message says, you also need to turn off Dictation before your recordings are cleared from Apple servers. Here’s how to do that:
- Open Settings
- Click on ‘General’
- Scroll down to ‘Keyboard’
- Toggle ‘Enable Dictation’ off
- Turn Off Dictation
You’ll get a message above that last step that says: “The information Dictation uses to respond to your requests will be removed from Apple servers. If you want to use Dictation later, it will take some time to resend this information. Turning off Dictation on your iPhone will turn off Dictation on your Apple Watch”.