Apple planned a major Siri update but then cancelled it due to privacy concerns

Amazon's Alexa could have seen competition with this key feature

Apple iPhone in blue and Siri icon
(Image credit: Getty Images / nyc russ / Apple)

Apple began work on a new major update for its virtual voice assistant Siri but decided to cancel the idea over concerns surrounding the iPhone maker's privacy rules. 

As reported by The Information (via MacRumors (opens in new tab)), the plan was to implement a new feature that would allow Siri to make purchases of "apps or other services" on behalf of users, just like how Amazon operates Alexa. Proposed in 2019, it never saw the light of day with Apple engineers revealing that restrictions surrounding the company's privacy policy made it impossible to go ahead. 

According to over a dozen former employees, Apple does not collect that much data from its products – whether that be Apple Maps, Siri or Apple TV Plus – due to a rigorous privacy policy, and therefore, engineers are struggling to innovate on the current suite of Apple services. As a result, it was noted that Apple employees often have to "find creative or costly ways to make up for the lack of access to data."

Throughout the detailed report (opens in new tab) (paywall), it's noted that the Apple Watch suffered from the same issues and how several add-ons nearly didn't make it to implementation – most notably, the 'Raise to Speak' feature that enables users to raise their wrist to wake the device instead of having to say "Hey Siri". 

"In 2019, employees explored whether a customer could use Siri to purchase apps and other online services by using their voice, similar to how customers of Amazon buy products using its voice assistant, Alexa, according to a person with direct knowledge of the project," the report reads.

"The effort stalled in part because of strict privacy rules that prevented Siri from tying a person's Apple ID to their voice request. The Apple media products team in charge of the project couldn't find an alternative way to reliably authenticate users in order to bill them" 

Whether or not the Siri purchase feature will eventually return in future is unclear. It's at least comforting that Apple has explored the option in some way and somewhat refreshing that the tech giant held it back in favour of customer privacy. Imagine if all companies did that. 

Siri is available across the following Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, HomePod, Mac, Apple TV and CarPlay.

Thankfully, Apple has still been rolling out a host of iPhone and iPad updates to help make video creation on the device that bit easier. Additionally, Apple's new charger has leaked ahead of time and is looking like it could be revolutionary for iPhone and Apple Watch users. 

Matthew Forde
Staff Writer

Matthew is the Staff Writer for T3, covering news and keeping up with everything games, entertainment, and all manner of tech. You can find his work across numerous sites across the web, including TechRadar, IGN, Tom's Guide, Fandom, NME, and more. In his spare time, Matthew is an avid cinema-goer, keen runner and average golfer (at best). You can follow him @MattForde64