Former Siri board member: She's 'not a data hog'

Someone from Siri's past has come out in defense of the software voice assistant's alleged data hogging ways, saying each query is about 63 kilobytes of data.

Siri: Not such a data hog after all?
Siri: Not such a data hog after all? Apple

Reports of Siri's bandwidth hogging ways have been greatly exaggerated, according to a former board member of the namesake company Apple bought in 2010.

In a guest post on Forbes this morning, former Siri and Nuance Communications board member Gary Morgenthaler suggests that the research report put out earlier this month by mobile network management company Arieso--the one that claimed the voice assistant feature led to about twice the amount of data use--is untrue.

"Siri's average data consumed per query is less than 63 kilobytes, according to Ars Technica; and it's a number I can confirm, having served as a Siri board member for years," Morgenthaler wrote. "63 kilobytes by the way, relative to iCloud, YouTube, Pandora and others, is de minimus," he added.

That Ars Technica mention is the investigation the outlet did shortly after the iPhone 4S was released, testing a bevy of queries on Siri to see how much data the feature used. The conclusion was that the average query slurped up 63 kilobytes of data, with some actions like visiting a Web page, or pulling up a map then adding data on top of that, since those are separate applications and have data needs of their own.

Arieso's study made waves this month when it suggested that iPhone 4S users were bigger data users than those on the iPhone 4 due to Siri, an iPhone 4S-specific feature that runs through Apple's servers and sends snippets of voice data for processing. Arieso's study took data from more than 1 million subscribers on a European cellular network shortly after the feature made its debut.

The study surfaced once again last week in a story in The Washington Post titled "How Siri is ruining your cellphone service." The report suggested that the influx of data hogs on each carrier's cellular network would eventually congest and deteriorate service, leading to dropped calls and slower data speeds.

Morgenthaler added some additional anecdotal evidence of his own to malign the Arieso report, saying the feature itself was not creating a noticeable influx of new traffic.

"I spoke with the CTO of a major European mobile telecommunications carrier who confirmed to me that, based on detailed analysis of mobile data traffic on their network, Siri's contribution to the increase was 'negligible,'" Morgenthaler said.

Apple, for its part, has kept its mouth shut on the claims by either party. The company did not respond to a request for comment on Morgenthaler's defense of the feature.

 

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