The Apple Watch could be listening to your most intimate conversations

Accidental Siri recordings the root of the problem, according to whistleblower
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Siri on the Apple Watch could be revealing conversations with your doctor and even your sexual activity through accidental recordings made by the smart assistant.

It was revealed by the Guardian that contractors employed by Apple have been encountering recordings made unwittingly by Apple product owners via Siri.

The most common way it seems that those recordings are being triggered is through the raising of an Apple Watch, which normally triggers the watch to be ready for a "Hey, Siri" prompt. However, without receiving the prompt, the watch might still record up to 30 seconds of audio and store it.

Read next: Apple Watch Series 5: What we know so far

This audio can then be sifted as part of samples sent to contractors who are employed to assess the success of given Siri responses. A whistleblower, talking to the Guardian, said: "There have been countless instances of recordings featuring private discussions between doctors and patients, business deals, seemingly criminal dealings, sexual encounters and so on."

The contractor drew particular attention to the Apple Watch as the source of these recordings, alongside Apple's HomePod smart speaker, but the issue is relevant to all Apple devices that use Siri. Occasional accidental activations of the smart assistant are familiar to any Siri user, but it's unlikely that any of us were expecting this level of error.

Happily, there are a few concrete steps you can take if you're concerned about Siri listening in to your private affairs, be they suspicious or otherwise. For one, if you don't really use the assistant, you can turn off the "Hey, Siri" function in the watch's settings. Or, if a more subtle approach is your kind of thing, you could turn off the raise-to-speak function.

Apple has made a few conciliatory statements to explain why it's been using these recordings, and indeed why recordings are made at all. It will be hoping that this doesn't put too much of a dent into the Apple Watch's reputation ahead of the launch of the next iteration of its smartwatch, which we anticipate will be unveiled later this year.

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Max Freeman-Mills


Reporter Max Freeman-Mills joined the Wareable team as a journalism graduate. He's gone on to be contributing editor at Pocketlint, as a skilled technology journalist and expert.

In addition, Max has written for The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, and has done work for Gizmodo UK and Kotaku UK. 

Max has his finger is firmly on the pulse of wearable tech – ensuring our coverage is the most comprehensive it can be. 

That also involves interviewing CEOs and figureheads from the industry.

Max loves a bit of football, watching and playing to differing degrees of success, and is practically resident at the Genesis Cinema.

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