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Here's Apple's Plan to Fix Siri

I don't know what your experiences with Apple's digital assistant Siri are like, but it always fumbles when understanding my speech, and Amazon's Alexa demolished it in our face-off competition.

So I'm happy to see a report that Apple is planning to fix Siri by adding a new method of data analysis.

As reported on by ZDNet, the beta version of iOS 10.3 released last week introduces iCloud Analytics, which will allow Apple to leverage your usage data to improve Siri. It's currently enabled by default, so users who don't want Apple to analyze their data would need to opt-out by disabling the setting under the Privacy section of Settings.

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In the short "About iCloud Analytics & Privacy" section found in the Privacy menu, Apple states "analysis of such data will allow Apple to improve intelligent features and services such as Siri and other similar or related features."

Apple's explanation also states it will use "data from your iCloud account in a privacy preserving manner." This is meant to stand in contrast with how companies such as Google handle user data, as Apple has long criticized the search giant for not treating user privacy seriously, and selling data to advertisers.

Apple claims it will keep your data private with techniques including its Differential Privacy anonymizing tool, which the company revealed at last year's WWDC conference. Apple claims Differential Privacy can reveal "usage patterns of a large number of users without compromising individual privacy" by adding "mathematical noise" to data taken from individuals.

If Apple can use analytics to make Siri a competent competitor to AIs such as Alexa and Google Assistant, and do so with a focus on privacy, it could turn Siri into a feature worth promoting again. Further, fixing Siri will be necessary if the company wants to convince the public to buy its own version of Amazon's Echo speaker that uses the digital assistant.