Digital assistants like Siri are very common now. Not only found in mobile phones, but they’ve also been integrated into other platforms like smartwatches and computers too. The voice recognition of these digital assistants is a key part of their popularity, it makes interacting with them feel more human. To allow them to respond to voice commands, digital assistants listen through the microphone constantly.
Naturally, not everyone is happy with that. Thankfully there is a way to turn this feature off – this guide will walk you through the process of stopping Siri from listening to the microphone at all times.
One downside of voice recognition is that it is relatively processor intensive. As such, voice recognition tends to be mostly performed in the cloud. However, sending all microphone data over the internet constantly would be infeasible. The solution to this issue has been for Siri and other digital assistants, to have an activation phrase for which the voice analysis can be performed on the phone. Once the activation phrase is spoken, then the full voice recognition with the cloud connection is put in place.
Tip: The cloud is the name for a group of servers on the internet. They are generally owned by service providers rather than consumers and are used to process and store data, so it doesn’t have to be processed or stored on a personal device. In the case of Siri, Apple controls the Cloud servers and processes the audio data there.
Siri’s activation phrase is “Hey Siri”. By default, if you say; “Hey Siri”, Siri will activate and start sending voice data to the cloud for analysis. The processing power required to listen for an activation phrase is significantly lower than for general-purpose voice recognition, but it still does reduce the battery life of the device. Furthermore, there can still be false activations, where the activation phrase was not spoken, which can cause unintended and potentially sensitive audio data to be transmitted.
Reducing the battery life impact and protecting your privacy are both very valid reasons to want to stop Siri from listening for the activation phrase. This setting can be found in the Settings app under Settings > Siri & Search. The top-most setting is ‘Listen for “Hey Siri”’. Disabling this setting by tapping the slider to the “Off” position will stop Siri from listening for the activation phrase.
Tip: You can still activate Siri manually by pressing and holding the side button if the second setting, “Press Side Button for Siri” is enabled.