Apple Homepod

Apple Homepod

Apple $299
Wi-Fi Bluetooth

Review date: 11/02/2020

Seven horn-loaded tweeters, six microphone array, one high-excursion woofer, and a partridge in a pear tree! This fancy smart speaker from Apple comes with six built in smart microphones. That's a lot of listening. Apple promises anything you say after "Hey Siri" is encrypted and associated to a random identifier to Apple's servers though, so you should be safe. Apple also claims this speaker has a big brain with spatial awareness and can learn all about the room you put it in to deliver the best sound. When you listen to those 11 drummers drumming they're gonna sound awesome.

What could happen if something goes wrong

Apple does a pretty good job with privacy and security as a company. They don't share or sell your data and Apple takes special care to make sure your Siri requests aren't associated with you. 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. However, it's always good to remember if you buy this product you're bringing six quality microphones that are always listening into your home. Here's hoping Apple doesn't let more strangers listen in to all you say!

Privacy

Can it snoop on me?

Camera

Device: No

App: N/A

Microphone

Device: Yes

App: N/A

Tracks Location

Device: No

App: N/A

What is required to sign up?

What data does it collect?

How can you control your data?

You can request that data be deleted. You can go to https://privacy.apple.com/ to get a copy of your data, correct your data, or delete your account.

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

Great

They actually changed their Siri voice recording review practices—from an opt out to an opt-in—when people told them they were unhappy having contractors listen to the recordings. Good for them! In 2019, The Guardian reported that Apple hired contractors to review snippets of call recordings; these contractors "regularly heard confidential details… as part of their job providing quality control, or "grading," the company's Siri voice assistant." As a result of this revelation, Apple has changed Siri's privacy policy to no longer retain Voice recordings. Users can opt-in to providing audio samples. Apple employees will be the only ones to listen to recordings.

Can this product be used offline?

Yes

A WiFi connection is required to set it up.

User friendly privacy information?

Yes

Links to privacy information

Security

Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?

Yes

Encryption

Yes

Uses encryption in transit and at rest. After Apple recognizes the words “Hey Siri,” what you say is encrypted and associated with a random identifier without being tied to your Apple ID. Audio samples are only retained if you have opted-in.

Strong password

Yes

Security updates

Yes

Manages vulnerabilities

Yes

Apple has a bug bounty program, which means that anyone who finds a security issue and discloses it responsibly may get paid. https://developer.apple.com/security-bounty/

Privacy policy

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.

Artificial Intelligence

Does the product use AI?

Yes

Does the AI use your personal data to make decisions about you?

No

Does the company allow users to see how the AI works?

Yes

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. Apple states in its privacy policy, "Apple does not take any decisions involving the use of algorithms or profiling that significantly affect you." Some of its research can be found at https://machinelearning.apple.com/.

Company contact info

Phone Number

(800) 275–2273

Twitter

applesupport

Updates

How to keep the smart speaker you got for the holidays and still keep some of your privacy, too
Vox
Smart speakers — Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Nest, Apple’s HomePod, and the like — are in approximately one-third of American homes, a number that’s sure to increase once all the cyber Monday deals have been shipped and Christmas presents have been unwrapped. But the people receiving (or giving) these digital personal assistants may not realize all the potential privacy pitfalls that come with them — or know what they can do to protect themselves from always-on listening and data collection devices.
Apple’s AI plan: a thousand small conveniences
James Vincent
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. This can lead to overpromising. But judging by its recent WWDC performance, Apple has adopted a smarter and quieter approach.
Apple apologises for allowing workers to listen to Siri recordings
The Guardian
Apple has apologised for allowing contractors to listen to voice recordings of Siri users in order to grade them. The company made the announcement after it completed a review of the grading programme, which had been triggered by a Guardian report revealing its existence. According to multiple former graders, accidental activations were regularly sent for review, having recorded confidential information, illegal acts, and even Siri users having sex.

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