Unlike Roomba, Apple confirms it won't upload, share or sell your home data from HomePod

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2017
With vacuum maker iRobot looking to sell user's house maps to smart home vendors, an AppleInsider reader asked Apple what it planned to do with data collected by the HomePod's room mapping technology. Unsurprisingly, Apple confirmed it has no intention of saving or sharing information about a user's home layout.




Following iRobot's CEO declaring that he was looking to sell collated data from the automatic robot vacuum Roomba, a user reached out to Apple to see what it had in mind on the same topic. The user was concerned because Apple advertises it will use room-mapping technology to automatically tailor the HomePod's audio to fit the space.

In an email response to the reader, Apple declared that:
"No information is sent to Apple servers until HomePod recognizes the key utterance "Hey Siri," and any information after that point is encrypted and sent via an anonymous Siri ID. For room sensing, all analysis is done locally on the device and is not shared with Apple."
Reaching out to Apple for more data regarding the statement and to confirm its authenticity, AppleInsider was told that there was "nothing at all new here" and there is no change to the company's privacy page for Siri and hardware. The privacy page states clearly that it does not collect and sell user data gleaned by Siri or other services.

While Apple's privacy policy on Siri is not new, the room sensing technology set to be introduced in the HomePod itself is. Confirmation that Apple has no intention to upload or share the data should help put privacy advocates at ease.




Apple's HomePod uses the microphones to listen not only to the user, but to the audio being played in real-time. The A8 analyzes not only the sound of the audio in the room, but "time in flight," telling the device where each wall or sound-reflecting object is in the room, and adjusts the output accordingly based on this data.

While not quite the same as how a Roomba can map a user's floors and furniture, it's still some general idea of how a person's home is laid out, or how large it is.

Unlike Apple, which plans to keep any home data stored on the device itself, Roomba collects and stores information on a user's home not only to improve its products, but also with the possibility that it could share and sell it in the future.




Roomba builder iRobot believes that the data could be of interest to Apple, Amazon, and Google to improve the data sets utilized in home automation software and services, or to suggest a new product to fill a service gap. To boost its bottom line, iRobot has started looking for customers willing to pay for that data.

As detailed this week, the 900-series Roomba automated vacuums measure the dimensions of a room, as well as furniture orientation, size of the devices, and where they are located in the room. This is accomplished by simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology.

Apple's $349 HomePod was revealed at the 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference and will ship in December. The speaker is powered by an Apple A8 chip featuring realtime acoustic modeling, audio beam-forming, and multi-channel echo cancelation. It features a subset of Siri, optimized for music consumption.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    Does anyone else think there could be more to homepod than just a really nice speaker with a bit of Siri?

    I think it would make a perfect wifi router and / or over air trickle charge for your mobile devices.
    tallest skilanantksundaramcornchip
  • Reply 2 of 21
    I would never put a Google Home or Amazon Alexa device in my home, or whatever thing it is that FaceBook is supposedly building. This device's privacy, plus it being an intelligently calibrated WiFi / Bluetooth speaker is appealing, to me at least.
    jbdragonred oakanton zuykovlolliverbb-15cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 21
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,780member
    I would never put a Google Home or Amazon Alexa device in my home, or whatever thing it is that FaceBook is supposedly building. This device's privacy, plus it being an intelligently calibrated WiFi / Bluetooth speaker is appealing, to me at least.
    Once you realize what Google's and Amazon's motives are for developing  these gadgets you start to feel creepy. Both companies are not hardware manufacturers but rather an advertiser and a retailer. They will make their profits not from the sale of those devices but from the data those devices collect. Apple will profit from the sale of the HomePod and says it will not upload or sell that data. I believe them.
    lolliverbb-15cornchipwatto_cobraRacerhomieX
  • Reply 4 of 21
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,846member
    Does anyone else think there could be more to homepod than just a really nice speaker with a bit of Siri?

    I think it would make a perfect wifi router and / or over air trickle charge for your mobile devices.
    I can see it intelligently managing all the other devices in the room. So, if my iPad and/or iPhone is in the same room at any given time, the HomePod would know and take over any "Hey Siri" requests and direct the response to the correct device. For example, "Hey, Siri. Play Game of Thrones on my Apple TV" or "Hey, Siri. Send directions to xyz restaurant to my phone.
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 21
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,246member
    I doubt that an acoustic "print" of a room would be in any way as immediately salable as a physically measured one. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 6 of 21
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,338administrator
    I doubt that an acoustic "print" of a room would be in any way as immediately salable as a physically measured one. 
    Why not? Echolocation works pretty well, and is extremely accurate.

    Source: I was a submariner. Plus, bats manage to not crash a lot.
    peterhartnhughesanton zuykovwassimjlolliverbb-15cornchipwatto_cobrauraharaRacerhomieX
  • Reply 7 of 21
    I doubt that an acoustic "print" of a room would be in any way as immediately salable as a physically measured one. 
    Blind bats don't crash into the walls of a cave. Or into anything for that matter.
    nhugheslolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 21
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,463member
    To be fair to Roomba, they stated that they would require explicit permission from individual users as to whether they could sell this information. It’s isn’t a difficult to find opt out process.
  • Reply 9 of 21
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,338administrator
    melgross said:
    To be fair to Roomba, they stated that they would require explicit permission from individual users as to whether they could sell this information. It’s isn’t a difficult to find opt out process.
    For us. If iRobot wanted to make this simple, the device would ship with it off, and require opt-in, and not cripple any features if you don't.
    edited July 2017 lolliverwatto_cobraiqatedo
  • Reply 10 of 21
    reefoidreefoid Posts: 158member
    I doubt that an acoustic "print" of a room would be in any way as immediately salable as a physically measured one. 
    Blind bats don't crash into the walls of a cave. Or into anything for that matter.
    At the risk of sounding pedantic, bats aren't blind.  Whilst they use echo location to locate prey and navigate in darkness, their eyesight is actually better than ours.
    beowulfschmidtiqatedo
  • Reply 11 of 21
    lkrupp said:
    I would never put a Google Home or Amazon Alexa device in my home, or whatever thing it is that FaceBook is supposedly building. This device's privacy, plus it being an intelligently calibrated WiFi / Bluetooth speaker is appealing, to me at least.
    Once you realize what Google's and Amazon's motives are for developing  these gadgets you start to feel creepy. Both companies are not hardware manufacturers but rather an advertiser and a retailer. They will make their profits not from the sale of those devices but from the data those devices collect. Apple will profit from the sale of the HomePod and says it will not upload or sell that data. I believe them.
    When I tell people that I don't use Google and really limit what I buy from Amazon because of those data slurping reasons they look at me blabk faced. They just don't get that they are feeding the twin dragons that indend to eat every single one of us before lunch in their search for data on us.
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,676member
    Does anyone else think there could be more to homepod than just a really nice speaker with a bit of Siri?

    I think it would make a perfect wifi router and / or over air trickle charge for your mobile devices.
    1) Yes, there is a lot more than just a speaker with a bit of Siri. It's a lot of Siri, for starters, and it's a lot of processing of audio from various sources for your home.

    2) No, this will not be a wireless router. There will no WAN port to connect to your broadband modem. There will be no Ethernet switch and USB port for a printer or HDD set up. There will be built-in HDD to make it Time Capsule. This is first and foremost a Siri speaker for the home.
  • Reply 13 of 21
    lkrupp said:
    I would never put a Google Home or Amazon Alexa device in my home, or whatever thing it is that FaceBook is supposedly building. This device's privacy, plus it being an intelligently calibrated WiFi / Bluetooth speaker is appealing, to me at least.
    Once you realize what Google's and Amazon's motives are for developing  these gadgets you start to feel creepy. Both companies are not hardware manufacturers but rather an advertiser and a retailer. 
    And many people won't give it that much thought. They'll stop at the price and functions and not even consider paying $349 for something that is "the same". 

    Similarly, many people don't seem to care about all the data being gathered on them. A typical response I hear is something along the lines of "I don't have nude photos of myself and I have nothing to hide. Why should I care if "xxx" knows I'm at the gym or the grocery store or that I bought a particular book?"
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 21
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,139member
    Soli said:
    Does anyone else think there could be more to homepod than just a really nice speaker with a bit of Siri?

    I think it would make a perfect wifi router and / or over air trickle charge for your mobile devices.
    1) Yes, there is a lot more than just a speaker with a bit of Siri. It's a lot of Siri, for starters, and it's a lot of processing of audio from various sources for your home.

    2) No, this will not be a wireless router. There will no WAN port to connect to your broadband modem. There will be no Ethernet switch and USB port for a printer or HDD set up. There will be built-in HDD to make it Time Capsule. This is first and foremost a Siri speaker for the home.
    I really hope Apple can use large capacity SSDs for all TM devices soon, if only costs would drop, HDDs are so damn slow.
  • Reply 15 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,676member
    MacPro said:
    Soli said:
    Does anyone else think there could be more to homepod than just a really nice speaker with a bit of Siri?

    I think it would make a perfect wifi router and / or over air trickle charge for your mobile devices.
    1) Yes, there is a lot more than just a speaker with a bit of Siri. It's a lot of Siri, for starters, and it's a lot of processing of audio from various sources for your home.

    2) No, this will not be a wireless router. There will no WAN port to connect to your broadband modem. There will be no Ethernet switch and USB port for a printer or HDD set up. There will be built-in HDD to make it Time Capsule. This is first and foremost a Siri speaker for the home.
    I really hope Apple can use large capacity SSDs for all TM devices soon, if only costs would drop, HDDs are so damn slow.
    Are you really gaining any speed with a WiFi connected drive?

    You can do your test if you have an external SSD. See if you see any better read/write times for it connected via USB on an AEBS or Time Capsule.
    edited July 2017 watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 21
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    I think it would make a perfect wifi router
    Aw, geez, they really missed the boat on that one. Because what are we supposed to be doing with this–connecting it to our Cisco™®© routers and trying to manage all our stuff with their interface? HomePod is the perfect size for a router, too. 
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 21
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,338administrator
    MacPro said:
    Soli said:
    Does anyone else think there could be more to homepod than just a really nice speaker with a bit of Siri?

    I think it would make a perfect wifi router and / or over air trickle charge for your mobile devices.
    1) Yes, there is a lot more than just a speaker with a bit of Siri. It's a lot of Siri, for starters, and it's a lot of processing of audio from various sources for your home.

    2) No, this will not be a wireless router. There will no WAN port to connect to your broadband modem. There will be no Ethernet switch and USB port for a printer or HDD set up. There will be built-in HDD to make it Time Capsule. This is first and foremost a Siri speaker for the home.
    I really hope Apple can use large capacity SSDs for all TM devices soon, if only costs would drop, HDDs are so damn slow.
    Real-life speeds from the network is the limiting factor, not the drive.
    Metriacanthosauruslolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 21
    Does anyone else think there could be more to homepod than just a really nice speaker with a bit of Siri?

    I think it would make a perfect wifi router and / or over air trickle charge for your mobile devices.
    What is about people and wanting to make every device Apple creates into a wireless router?

    No.

    The Home Pod, The Apple TV...just stop. These devices are not placed in a position to have Ethernet run to them. This would be an absolute non-starter for most people.
    edited July 2017 Solilolliver
  • Reply 19 of 21
    MacPro said:
    Soli said:
    Does anyone else think there could be more to homepod than just a really nice speaker with a bit of Siri?

    I think it would make a perfect wifi router and / or over air trickle charge for your mobile devices.
    1) Yes, there is a lot more than just a speaker with a bit of Siri. It's a lot of Siri, for starters, and it's a lot of processing of audio from various sources for your home.

    2) No, this will not be a wireless router. There will no WAN port to connect to your broadband modem. There will be no Ethernet switch and USB port for a printer or HDD set up. There will be built-in HDD to make it Time Capsule. This is first and foremost a Siri speaker for the home.
    I really hope Apple can use large capacity SSDs for all TM devices soon, if only costs would drop, HDDs are so damn slow.
    The hard drives are far from being the bottleneck here.
    lolliver
  • Reply 20 of 21
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,676member
    Does anyone else think there could be more to homepod than just a really nice speaker with a bit of Siri?

    I think it would make a perfect wifi router and / or over air trickle charge for your mobile devices.
    What is about people and wanting to make every device Apple creates into a wireless router?

    No.

    The Home Pod, The Apple TV...just stop. These devices are not placed in a position to have Ethernet run to them. This would be an absolute non-starter for most people.
    I love the "it's bigger than x so it can also contain x" logic.
    cornchip
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