Tests find Apple's Siri uses average of 63KB in data per query

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Though Siri on the iPhone 4S requires a data connection to operate, testing of Apple's new voice control service has found that it uses a small average of 63KB per query.



For those with a capped data plan who must keep an eye on their iPhone usage, the testing done by Jacqui Cheng of ArsTechnica may come as a relief, as it shows using Siri will not consume a great deal of bandwidth for most users. For example, someone who uses Siri 10 to 15 times per day would use a total of 18.5MB to 27.7MB in one month.



The average of 63KB was found by doing 11 different tasks: six of them considered local, and another five that required data to be accessed online. Local tasks used just 36.7KB per query, while ones that relied on a Web search or Wolfram Alpha averaged 94.72KB.



In all, a total of 11 queries added up to 393.6KB of data usage. Another four text dictations were also accomplished, with two short e-mails and two text messages averaging 72.5KB. The testing confirmed that longer messages require more remote processing from Apple's servers and use more bandwidth.



"Your own numbers will be different depending on how wordy you are, what kinds of queries you're making, and how frequently you do it," Cheng said. "So please take these estimates with a grain of salt -- they're more like general ranges than exact numbers."



The complex software required by Siri to decipher users' natural language cannot be accomplished on the iPhone 4S alone, which is why the service uses Apple's servers to help understand commands and questions. Answers can be provided from a number of places including Google, Bing, Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia, Yelp and more.







New iPhone customers in the U.S. started facing data caps in June of 2010 when AT&T, then the exclusive carrier of the iPhone, began restricting new signups to 2GB of bandwidth per month before additional fees were incurred. AT&T's chief competitor, Verizon, also instituted its own cap this July with a high-end plan offering 10GB of data for $80 per month. Sprint began offering the iPhone in October, and has differentiated itself by offering customers an unlimited plan for data, unlike new AT&T and Verizon subscribers.



Apple's Siri software, exclusive to the iPhone 4S, remains in beta at launch, and currently understands English from the U.S., U.K. and Australia, as well as French and German. Apple has promised that Siri will gain support for additional languages in 2012 including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Italian and Spanish.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    Cue the "evil Apple is tracking and monitoring all your voice commands" in 3, 2, 1....
  • Reply 2 of 34
    Cue the "evil Google is tracking and monitoring all of your search queries and Gmail messages so it can sell the ads which generate about 97% of its revenue" in 4, 3, 2....
  • Reply 3 of 34
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,167member
    I was actually concerned about this. I wanted to to move to the 2GB since my AT&T unlimited data plan is not unlimited anymore. Beside, you can not get tethering plan with unlimited.
  • Reply 4 of 34
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,925member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by markbyrn View Post


    Cue the "evil Apple is tracking and monitoring all your voice commands" in 3, 2, 1....



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post


    Cue the "evil Google is tracking and monitoring all of your search queries and Gmail messages so it can sell the ads which generate about 97% of its revenue" in 4, 3, 2....



    There's nothing contradictory about the first being false while the second is obviously true. Kind of a lame post, really. Try to do better if you're going to troll here. We demand that our trolls be insanely great, not simply insane. (Unfortunately, our demands have not yet been met.)
  • Reply 5 of 34
    grubgrub Posts: 24member
    My thinking is that Apple is using its huge datacenter to collect data and refine Siri for various speech and accents, keeping tally of common requests, etc. That way they could push out more common things to the phone itself. That'd cut back usage.
  • Reply 6 of 34
    i think in the end Siri will save you data. all of the simple questions she answers saves you the trouble of doing a google search, which i would imagine uses a higher average amount of data.
  • Reply 7 of 34
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,953member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by OllieWallieWhiskers View Post


    i think in the end Siri will save you data. all of the simple questions she answers saves you the trouble of doing a google search, which i would imagine uses a higher average amount of data.



    It would be nice to see a point of reference. It's good to know that Siri has a small bandwidth footprint, but I don't know if it's going to be less than the equivalent than a search query, it would be nice to see a comparison test. But it's clearly small enough that people on 2GB plans don't need to be worried about using Siri at all, if they're blowing past 2GB, it's most likely going to be because of something else, such as video or prolonged audio streams.
  • Reply 8 of 34
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,481member
    This could have an additional effect. If Siri is doing the Google search from the Apple server, Google loses the ability to see the data of who initiated the request. No data, no ads for them. THAT'S INSANELY GREAT!!!
  • Reply 9 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by genovelle View Post


    This could have an additional effect. If Siri is doing the Google search from the Apple server, Google loses the ability to see the data of who initiated the request. No data, no ads for them. THAT'S INSANELY GREAT!!!



    The next step would be for Siri to ditch simply launching a web browser and initiating a search and instead have the search results display from within Siri in the same manner as Yelp, etc.



    That would be a shot against Google's bow, as it circumvents Google's ad-based model, which is what Google rightly feared about the iPhone (and lead it to release Android to ensure a foothold in the mobile market).
  • Reply 10 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by grub View Post


    My thinking is that Apple is using its huge datacenter to collect data and refine Siri for various speech and accents, keeping tally of common requests, etc. That way they could push out more common things to the phone itself. That'd cut back usage.



    Yes, I would think they must be doing something like that in order to improve the service.
  • Reply 11 of 34
    Would I be correct in assuming that Siri preferentially uses wifi if a connection is available?
  • Reply 12 of 34
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    1) So 63KBps sounds like 8KHz at 8-bit per sample per 5 second query. I would have thought Nuance's voice recognition would need 14khz, 16 bits per sample for to work well. With local lossless compression before being sent off would get into the 63KB ballpark but 63KB is quite specific.



    2) This was the one thing AnandTech's thorough review didn't cover.



    3) If you have Siri on even the simple commands, like calling a contract or starting a Playlist are sent offsite for processing, but if you turn Siri off the old Voice Control system apparently kicks in. Can anyone verify this at the risk of Siri losing their speech pattern DB?





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    It would be nice to see a point of reference. It's good to know that Siri has a small bandwidth footprint, but I don't know if it's going to be less than the equivalent than a search query, it would be nice to see a comparison test. But it's clearly small enough that people on 2GB plans don't need to be worried about using Siri at all, if they're blowing past 2GB, it's most likely going to be because of something else, such as video or prolonged audio streams.



    I'm thin even the Google search results from Safari would be larger than the results from Siri. Looking at the images in the main article it looks like Siri only sends the relevant data rendering the results based on local formatting used for Siri of the specific engines it queries. Anything out of its depth it will send you to Safari where full pages will have to be rendered in the browser without any server-side parsing or cleaning.
  • Reply 13 of 34
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post


    The next step would be for Siri to ditch simply launching a web browser and initiating a search and instead have the search results display from within Siri in the same manner as Yelp, etc.



    That would be a shot against Google's bow, as it circumvents Google's ad-based model, which is what Google rightly feared about the iPhone (and lead it to release Android to ensure a foothold in the mobile market).



    I'm sure they are crunching data as we speak to see what queries people most often request that currently need to be pushed to Safari.



    They have so much information I think it would be possible for Apple to update the server and local Siri components quickly, but I can see Apple holding off so it can demo and market all the new features of Siri next year at the iOS 6.0 event.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jazzpolice View Post


    Would I be correct in assuming that Siri preferentially uses wifi if a connection is available?



    Yes.
  • Reply 14 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    There's nothing contradictory about the first being false while the second is obviously true. Kind of a lame post, really. Try to do better if you're going to troll here. We demand that our trolls be insanely great, not simply insane. (Unfortunately, our demands have not yet been met.)



    Yeah... lately, the trolls' emphasis seems to be on quantity rather than quality: number of posts and word count as opposed to relevancy of content.



    Perhaps, AI could implement some sort of troll toll...



    Maybe capping the number of posts/words per day and charging the trolls exceeding the caps -- or just disallowing them any additional posts to any AI thread for 24 hours...



    Hmm...
  • Reply 15 of 34
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,528member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    1) So 63KBps sounds like 8KHz at 8-bit per sample per 5 second query. I would have thought Nuance's voice recognition would need 14khz, 16 bits per sample for to work well. With local lossless compression before being sent off would get into the 63KB ballpark but 63KB is quite specific.




    Even when singing, few human voices go much higher than 1.1KHz, so the 8KHz sample rate is more than sufficient. The 8-bit resolution might even be better than 16 bit, because flattening the dynamic range might make deciphering the words easier. Maybe someone here can share some relevant experience.
  • Reply 16 of 34
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    I don't know how they can get it as low as 63kb. I would think it would be a lot more for a request and a response. Just loading a typical Google's search page as minimal as it is uses 57kb just for the response. That doesn't take into consideration the original request which if it is compressed audio has got to be more than 63kb total.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post


    It would be nice to see a point of reference. It's good to know that Siri has a small bandwidth footprint, but I don't know if it's going to be less than the equivalent than a search query, it would be nice to see a comparison test. But it's clearly small enough that people on 2GB plans don't need to be worried about using Siri at all, if they're blowing past 2GB, it's most likely going to be because of something else, such as video or prolonged audio streams.



    One of the nice features in Android 4.0 ICS, according to the recent press -- is the ability to gather, report/notify, and cap data usage... down to the app level.



    This appears to be more of a necessity for Android because of no limit on the number of background tasks (potentially gobbling data).



    But, I think the capability would be useful on iOS devices too.



    I just bought DataMan from the app store...



    It does a pretty good job of monitoring and reporting -- though it can't cap or go down to the app level, due to iOS sandboxing,



    It would be useful for Apple to provide this capability as part of iOS.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    I don't know how they can get it as low as 63kb. I would think it would be a lot more for a request and a response. Just loading a typical Google's search page as minimal as it is uses 57kb just for the response. That doesn't take into consideration the original request which if it is compressed audio has got to be more than 63kb total.



    I assumed that 63KB was only for the voice packet being sent to Apple, but it does say "per query" so its much lower than I expected.



    I wonder how the other services size up to Siri on the 4S, including Dragon Dictation, the original Siri app on iOS, and doing a variety of text-based searches in Google, Wolfram-Alpha, Yelp!, etc.
  • Reply 19 of 34
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member
    Its getting increasingly hard to find a woman with old fashion values. I think I have found her. Her name is Siri. Only problem is I can't get married too her. Oh well I guess we will be plutonic.
  • Reply 20 of 34
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post


    The next step would be for Siri to ditch simply launching a web browser and initiating a search and instead have the search results display from within Siri in the same manner as Yelp, etc.



    That would be a shot against Google's bow, as it circumvents Google's ad-based model, which is what Google rightly feared about the iPhone (and lead it to release Android to ensure a foothold in the mobile market).



    This was discussed in the comments to the ARS article (referenced in this AI article).



    Some of the posts suggested that a fulfilled Siri request (one that did not soft fail to a web search), would, likely, consume less data than a corresponding [Google] search, and click through to a result.



    The [Google] search using minimal data (the search terms) from the iPhone -- but return a massive amount of data from the web, in the form of: HTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript, [unnecessary] ads, bling, etc.



    Your suggestion takes it a step further (ala Amazon Silk) -- extract the relevant content and format it (for the requesting device) on Apple's servers... then download only the formatted content.



    Apple could even take this one step further: Implement a special mini-subset of [HTML] markup for the sole purpose of efficiently transmitting results to a Siri request (that fails through to a web search). It would involve a simple routine on the iDevice to interpret and format the content that has been mini-marked up on Apple's servers.



    I did some research, a while back, which suggests that content transmitted this way would use 9% of the bandwidth (or less) of a typical HTML page or XML web service.



    Markup ain't cheap!



    So... If you use 1 GB of data per month on mobile web searches, doing the same with Siri could only use 90 MB of data...



    ... faster and no dross...



    Hmm...
Sign In or Register to comment.