Insiders: Apple’s focus on privacy hinders Siri development

Apple’s focus on privacy in recent years has hindered the development of Siri digital assistant, say former employees of the American company in business newspaper The Wall Street Journal. As a result, Apple was surprised by the competition.

Apple only collects data anonymously and deletes data after six months by default. As a result, the employees who work on Siri have less data at their disposal to make the system better than at Amazon, Google and Microsoft, writes The Wall Street Journal. The data is needed to train the system in speech recognition and in distinguishing voice sounds from background sounds.

As a result, development sometimes goes awry, says former employee Jason Douglas. “It paralyzes you. The iTunes Store has good data, but its scale is not Amazon or Google’s.” In addition, there was internal unrest at the division that developed Siri. First, Apple brought two teams together and then put a manager there who knew nothing about voice-activated systems. This led to several experts leaving, according to the business newspaper.

Apple introduced Siri in 2011 along with the iPhone 4s. The manufacturer was the first with a built-in digital assistant. Google came a little later with Now and last year with Assistant, Microsoft showed Cortana in April 2014 and Amazon showed Alexa for the first time half a year later. Digital assistants use machine learning to better recognize and interpret words.