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Apple says a ‘small portion’ of iPhones recorded interactions with Siri even if you opted out

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Apple says it’s deleting any inadvertently collected recordings

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple has acknowledged an iOS 15 bug that may have recorded interactions with Siri on some devices, regardless of whether the user opted out, according to a report from ZDNet. The bug automatically enabled the Improve Siri & Dictation setting that gives Apple permission to record, store, and review your conversations with Siri.

Apple tells The Verge that it identified the bug shortly after the release of iOS 15, stopped reviewing any recordings inadvertently received, and is deleting info received from affected devices. After discovering the bug, the company turned off the feature for “many” users and corrected the opt-in setting when it released iOS 15.2. As ZDNet points out, this is the reason why you might get a prompt asking for your permission to enable the Improve Siri & Dictation feature once you install the new 15.4 beta or, eventually, its official release.

“With iOS 15.2, we turned off the Improve Siri & Dictation setting for many Siri users while we fixed a bug introduced with iOS 15,” Apple spokesperson Catherine Franklin said in a statement to The Verge. “This bug inadvertently enabled the setting for a small portion of devices. Since identifying the bug, we stopped reviewing and are deleting audio received from all affected devices.”

This seems like a serious enough bug that Apple should explicitly warn users and urge them to ensure their iPhones are up-to-date while notifying anyone affected. As it is, the company’s statement still leaves an unknown of how many phones were affected or when. Without transparency, there’s no way to tell who may have had their conversations recorded and listened to by Apple employees despite asking to avoid exactly that outcome. If you have an iPhone, now might be a good time to update to iOS 15.2 or later (if you haven’t already). For users who haven’t yet upgraded to iOS 15.2 or higher, Apple confirmed it has stopped reviewing recordings and continues to delete any data received.

Update February 9th 3:00PM ET: Updated to add a statement from an Apple spokesperson, as well as clarify that Apple is deleting and is no longer reviewing recordings from users who haven’t yet upgraded to iOS 15.2.

Correction February 9th 3:00PM ET: An older version of the story cited ZDNet’s report that Apple fixed the bug in the second beta of 15.4. However, Apple says it fixed the bug in iOS 15.2.