‘Dictation’ on iPads sends info to Apple servers

“Dictation” is one of the features of the new iPad, and it can be used to dictate notes, emails, text messages. But new iPad owners may want to use it sparingly if they’re worried about privacy: the feature sends what you say to Apple’s servers to process the information.

“What I’ve come to learn about Dictation is that it requires more from me to use than I’m comfortable with Apple requesting,” writes Stephen Chapman on ZDNet.

“Thankfully, they’re upfront about some of the data they collect; however, their intentions are vague at best, and they use some rather loose verbiage.”

Chapman cites several examples of information Apple gives the user about Dictation as its settings are being changed or used, including this:

The things you dictate will be recorded and sent to Apple to convert what you say into text. Your device will also send Apple other information, such as your first name and nickname; the names, nicknames, and relationship with you (e.g., “my dad”) of your address book contacts; and song names in your collection (collectively, your “User Data”). All of this data is used to help the dictation feature understand you better and recognize what you say. It is not linked to other data that Apple may have from your use of other Apple services.

You have to Wi-Fi turned on to use Dictation; you can’t use it otherwise, by just dictating to your iPad, Chapman noted.

Dictation’s sharing nature may come as a surprise to many. As some iPhone 4S users already know, Siri, the voice-activated assistant, does the same thing when it comes to sending info you request to Apple’s servers.

We’ve asked Apple for comment, and will update this post if we hear back.

Chapman says he’s “not trying to fear-monger … I don’t think Apple plans to do anything malicious with whatever ‘User Data’ it collects, and I do understand why they would need certain ‘User Data’ to improve Dictation; however, it’s quite interesting to see the slick writing style and verbiage used to cover their bases such that they could request just about anything from you they wanted to and store it on their servers.


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