Alexa voice data sold for advertising, Ive's exit from Apple, and more on the AppleInsider...

in General Discussion edited May 2022
On this week's AppleInsider Podcast, your hosts talk about how developers can apply to attend WWDC in-person, examine a YouTuber's behind-the-scenes look at Apple's Fitness+ studio, discuss Amazon's sale of Alexa voice data to over 40 advertising partners, and more.

Starting May 9, 2022, existing Apple developers can apply to attend a special in-person event on June 6 at the Worldwide Developers Conference. Details remain sparse on what the in-person attendees will actually experience, though. Still, the invitation states that attendees will watch the keynote and State of the Union videos alongside Apple engineers and experts -- plus explore the all-new "Developer Center."

Next, YouTube creator iJustine has toured the Apple Fitness+ studio in Santa Monica, California. She interviewed VP of Fitness Jay Blahnik and several Fitness+ instructors on the planning, rehearsal, and production process of Fitness+ workouts.

Perhaps less impressively, Amazon recently confirmed to The Verge that voice data from Alexa interactions are shared with third-party advertisers. For "shared," read "sold."

According to new research from Cornell University, this type of voice data leads to "30X higher ad bids from advertisers." Not that this is in any way the reason that smart speaker brand Sonos has announced its own voice assistant is in a software update coming next month.

Finally, the New York Times has run an article based on the Tripp Mickle book "After Steve: How Apple Became a Trillion-Dollar Company and Lost Its Soul." It describes the frustration Jony Ive reportedly experienced as CEO Tim Cook made numerous changes within Apple.

The book claims that Ive believes design has taken a back seat to features and performance at the company, leading to increasingly utilitarian designs. Here's looking at you, Mac Studio.

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  • Reply 1 of 3
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 10,557member
    So these voice assistant ARE listening all the time after all. Now all you have to do is mention “strap-on-dildo” and you’l start getting ads for them. Magnificent.
  • Reply 2 of 3
    No surprise here! It's Amazon
  • Reply 3 of 3
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,419member
    lkrupp said:
    So these voice assistant ARE listening all the time after all. Now all you have to do is mention “strap-on-dildo” and you’l start getting ads for them. Magnificent.
    That’s not at all what they are saying. All of these voice assistants are only listening for the trigger phrase in their standard use case (**). For Amazon, you’d have to use the trigger phrase and then order the item in question using voice ordering plus you’d have to have your privacy setting in your Amazon profile and in the Alexa app configured to allow Amazon to use a history of your post-triggered voice based purchases and interactions potentially used to make purchase suggestions.

    There is a feature in Alexa called “follow up mode” that allows you to make follow up queries to Alexa queries without having to use the trigger phrase after the first query. This provides a more natural and semi-conversational interaction. When an Alexa device is in this state it maintains a clear visual indicator that it is still listening and automatically deactivates after a few seconds.

    ** Some devices that use Alexa can be configured to work as part of the Guard feature to listen for glass breakage and smoke/CO detector alarms so it can alert you or summon help. When this feature is used with Ring alarm it is only active in Away mode. In Away mode the alarm will trigger a security alert on any sensor including internal sensors like motion detectors, which you definitely don’t want to do when you are walking around your home, i.e., Home mode.

    There’s nothing new here. Pretty much every system that captures information or behaviors about users from whatever mechanism available to them, from phony “warranty registration” or survey cards included with product purchases since forever to transaction logs and loyalty programs in retail POS systems to triggered voice and web search queries uses this information in some way, either for themselves or to sell to other advertisers. It’s always been incumbent on those who are subjected to this surveillance, whether anonymous or highly focused, to decide whether and how they want to use countermeasures to reduce their exposure. Short of retreating to an off-grid cabin in the woods to hide in to author a privacy manifesto on a manual typewriter there’s likely no way to completely eliminate your exposure entirely. It’s too late.
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