Apple launches invite-only app to make Siri smarter

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Siri may be in for new voice lessons soon.
Siri may be in for new voice lessons soon.
Photo: Apple

Apple quietly introduced a new app to the App Store earlier this month. It’s called Siri Speech Study. It allows participants — by invitation from Apple — to opt in and share voice requests and other data to help improve the voice-activated digital assistant’s performance.

Siri came out before Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Yet some say it seems less-advanced than the others. Digital assistants need a lot of data loaded and training provided on understanding languages and speech patterns. Siri Speech Study is a new way Apple has devised to get more helpful information from users.

“The Siri Speech Study app allows participants to send certain data to Apple for product improvement, as detailed in the informed consent form,” the company said in a listing TechCrunch spotted.

Siri Speech Study: Little known but widely available to some

The app listing offers little information.
The app listing offers little information.
Photo: App Store

The app, listed under “Utilities,” is distributed in a dozen places. Those are the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and Taiwan. It first appeared in the App Store on August 9, and then received an update on August 18, TechCrunch reported, using data from Sensor Tower.

Apparently you won’t find the software through searches. And it’s not listed as an Apple app. And you won’t be able to join the study by installing the software on your phone. It simply won’t work without an invitation from Apple.

The app’s page provides scant information about the study’s goals. And it doesn’t explain how someone becomes a participant. Instead, it offers a link to a license agreement and a screen where someone can enter an ID number to get started.

One effort among several

The app is reportely just one of several means by which Apple has tried to improve Siri.

In the past, Apple had tried to learn more about Siri’s mistakes by sending some small portion of consumers’ voice recordings to contractors for manual grading and review. But a whistleblower alerted media outlet The Guardian that the process had allowed them to listen in on confidential details at times. Apple shortly thereafter made manual review an opt-in process and brought audio grading in-house. This type of consumer data collection continues, but has a different aim that what a research study would involve.

— Via TechCrunch