Apple is finally addressing the issue with Siri recordings where contractors were found listen to user conversations. The Cupertino-based iPhone maker has said it will no longer retain audio recordings of its digital assistant Siri interactions. It also confirmed that it will use computer-generated transcripts to help Siri improve. “The users will be able to opt in to help Siri improve by learning from the audio samples of their requests,” the company said in a statement late on Wednesday.

The big change being that Apple is making Siri interactions an opt-in feature and not opt-out. This is in contrast to rivals who are making their digital assistant interactions an opt-out feature. Those who choose to participate will be able to opt out at any time. “When customers opt in, only Apple employees will be allowed to listen to audio samples of the Siri interactions. Our team will work to delete any recording which is determined to be an inadvertent trigger of Siri,” said the company.

Earlier, taking a tough stand against contractors who listened to over 1,000 Siri recordings per shift including people having sex, Apple reportedly laid off 300 contractors in Cork, Ireland. According to a report in Engadget, after suspending the Siri “grading” programme last month, the Cupertino-based iPhone maker has now terminated it altogether.

More contractors throughout Europe may have been let go, said the report. “We know that customers have been concerned by recent reports of people listening to audio Siri recordings as part of our Siri quality evaluation process — which we call grading. We heard their concerns, immediately suspended human grading of Siri requests and began a thorough review of our practices and policies,” Apple said in a response.

According to Apple, Siri uses as little data as possible to deliver an accurate result.

“Before we suspended grading, our process involved reviewing a small sample of audio from Siri requests — less than 0.2 per cent — and their computer-generated transcripts, to measure how well Siri was responding and to improve its reliability,” said the company.

“As a result of our review, we realise we haven’t been fully living up to our high ideals, and for that we apologize,” Apple added. Employees of Amazon, Google and Microsoft were also found listening to user conversations carried with their digital assistant. All the companies have now tweaked their rules and made it an opt-out feature.

(Written with IANS inputs)