Most of the time bad public relations problems get their publicity on Friday because nobody pays much attention to the news over the weekend. Apple, before Friday arrived, made good on two simmering issues.
The first was the never-ending saga of talking personal assistants and their ability to record what we say so others can hear it. Much ado over not much but Apple fixed it. The second was Apple doing the right thing with Right To Repair.
To be fair, Apple did not go far enough on either issue but moved quickly enough with proper baby steps to ensure the future looks less bleak than it did on Monday.
First up, Siri got in trouble a few weeks ago when a disgruntled Apple employee or contractor tipped the news media that Siri was recording pieces of audio conversation that they could hear. And Apple was paying them to do it. What did they hear? They only know, but drug deals and sex rose to the top of the list.
To be fair to Apple, everybody with a talking personal assistant speaker does the same thing. Little snippets of audio are captured and then married to the response to see if it matched as it should. Amazon told its customers it was ongoing and they could opt-out. Apple said nothing.
Bad Apple. Down boy. Sit.
Apple stopped the program, rid itself of the hired contractors, and instituted a new program to make it better. Apple:
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. We’ve decided to make some changes to Siri as a result.
For what it’s worth, none of those audio recordings are easily traceable back to Siri users, but still, if you’re the champion of privacy, then you need to be, well, more private. Apple responded to the PR problem the right way; acknowledged wrongdoing, stopped it, corrected it, and will live to tell another tale another day.
What about Right to Repair?
Historically, Apple does not want customers to repair their own devices, but hasn’t exactly made the process easy for third party, non-Apple repair shops. That has changed.
Apple today announced a new repair program, offering customers additional options for the most common out-of-warranty iPhone repairs. Apple will provide more independent repair businesses — large or small — with the same genuine parts, tools, training, repair manuals and diagnostics as its Apple Authorized Service Providers (AASPs). The program is launching in the US with plans to expand to other countries.
Apple did the right thing. Twice. In one day.
If we could only get politicians in Washington to do something similar.