Hey Siri and Live Photos respect user privacy, Apple says

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Apple product launches typically go by in a whirl of hype, cheering and shiny gadgetry, with many of the finer details filled in later on. Now the dust of Wednesday’s event has settled, the company has been explaining exactly what two of the new features coming to the iPhone 6S handsets — Live Photos and Hey Siri — mean for user privacy.

Live Photos takes a couple of seconds of video either side of an image whenever you snap a photo — so does this mean the iPhone 6S camera is always watching what you’re doing? Not so, says Apple: Nothing is saved until you press the camera shutter button, as MacRumors reports. You can of course turn off the Live Photos feature if you don’t like it.

Then there’s Hey Siri, aping Google Now by letting you call up the digital assistant from its slumber with a simple voice command. Again, the worry is that the iPhone 6S is always listening and potentially always recording. “In no case is the device recording what the user says or sending that information to Apple before the feature is triggered,” Apple told TechCrunch.

No audio is sent off your phone to the cloud (to run a search or whatever else) until the phone recognizes the “hey Siri” command and recognizes that the confirmed owner of the handset has uttered it. This should prevent someone else from trying to use the digital assistant on your phone.

In both scenarios, video and audio is being recorded ready for user input, but this is only temporary — the data collected is overwritten and erased for good unless you actually interact with the phone. Apple has frequently emphasized user privacy as one of the main reasons you might want to choose iOS, and it looks like they’re eager to keep that reputation intact.