Apple Homepod Mini

Apple Homepod Mini

Apple
Wi-Fi Bluetooth

Review date: Nov. 8, 2021

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Mozilla says

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People voted: Not creepy

“Full-range driver and dual passive radiators!” No idea what that means but Apple makes that sounds like the coolest thing ever in these little round, colorful globes of a smart speaker. The Homepod Mini comes in five colors with four built in smart microphones to listen for all those, "Hey Siri" requests. Apple promises anything you say after "Hey Siri" is encrypted and associated to a random identifier on Apple's servers though, so hopefully your voice requests are safe. And iPhone owners, you're in luck! Apple says personalized listening suggestions will appear magically on your iPhone when you hold it next to your Homepod without having to unlock your phone. There goes the privacy of your playlist.

What could happen if something goes wrong?

Apple does a pretty good job with privacy and security as a company. Although they did recently suffer a bad security vulnerability that resulted in spyware that could allow bad actors to record calls and messages and even turn the device camera and microphone on without the user knowing. Apple did patch the security vulnerability. This is a good reminder that even the best companies can be vulnerable to high level hacking.

They say they don't share or sell your data and Apple takes special care to make sure your Siri requests aren't associated with you, which is great. Apple did face backlash in 2019 when it came to light their contractors were regularly listening in on confidential personal conversations when they were reviewing the voice assistant's recordings. Apple changed their policy so users weren't automatically opted-in to human voice review. Recently, Apple made another positive change for your Siri voice requests -- many audio requests for things like setting timers or alarms or controlling music will no longer be sent over the internet to their servers, instead processing them directly on the Homepod. This is better for your privacy.

However, it's always good to remember if you buy this product you're bringing four microphones that are always listening into your home. Here's hoping Apple doesn't let more strangers listen in to all you say! We're sure glad to see the steps they are taking to make sure that doesn't happen.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Check out Apple Homepod privacy controls.
  • You can say “Hey Siri, stop listening” to turn off speech recognition for a period of time.
  • You can turn off location services on your Homepod, too.
  • Before you give HomePod to someone else, you should remove it from the Home app.
mobile Privacy warning Security A.I.

Can it snoop on me? information

Camera

Device: No

App: N/A

Microphone

Device: Yes

App: N/A

Tracks location

Device: No

App: N/A

What can be used to sign up?

What data does the company collect?

How does the company use this data?

Apple says it does not share your data with third parties for commercial or marketing purposes. In June 2021, Apple announced that it will no longer send Siri requests to its servers, but instead will process them at the device level.

How can you control your data?

Apple retains personal data only for so long as necessary to fulfill the purposes for which it was collected, including as described in their Privacy Policy or in their service-specific privacy notices, or as required by law. No specific data retention details are provided.

What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?

Needs Improvement

Apple had a recent serious security vulnerability. From Firewall Times: "In September 2021, researchers discovered that a spyware called Pegasus had infected iPhones and other Apple Devices via a ‘zero click exploit’, granting the spyware broad power over a users’ device. Once infected, the spyware could record calls and messages and even turn the device camera and microphone on without the user knowing. Pegasus was produced by the NSO Group, an Israel-based company that sells its spyware to governments such as Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Though this spyware would presumably be used to surveil terrorists and criminal enterprises, these governments have also used it to spy on activists, politicians, and journalists. As of September 13, 2021, Apple has patched the exploit."

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

WiFi is needed to set it up.

User-friendly privacy information?

Yes

Apple has a webpage highlighting its privacy principles and features. Apple begins its privacy policy with a statement of principles. While this statement is very long, it is clearly broken out into relevant topics.

Links to privacy information

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards? information

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Uses encryption in transit and at rest.

Strong password

Yes

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Apple has a bug bounty program.

Privacy policy

Yes

Does the product use AI? information

Yes

Some of Apple's AI research can be found at https://machinelearning.apple.com/.

Is this AI untrustworthy?

Can’t Determine

What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?

Apple states in its privacy policy, "Apple does not take any decisions involving the use of algorithms or profiling that significantly affect you." Apple employs machine learning in many different ways, from using it to to improve Siri to using it to sharpen the photos that you take.

Is the company transparent about how the AI works?

Yes

Does the user have control over the AI features?

Yes


News

Apple’s AI plan: a thousand small conveniences
The Verge
AI has become an integral part of every tech company’s pitch to consumers. Fail to hype up machine learning or neural networks when unveiling a new product, and you might as well be hawking hand-cranked calculators.
Apple overhauls Siri to address privacy concerns and improve performance
The Guardian
Apple will no longer send Siri requests to its servers, the company has announced, in a move to substantially speed up the voice assistant’s operation and address privacy concerns.
Apple Data Breaches: Full Timeline Through 2021
Firewall Times
Below, we’ll go into detail on the full history of Apple breaches, starting with the most recent.

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