back to article Terror of the adtech industry iOS 14.5 has landed, and Siri can answer your calls ... though she/he can't hang up

Point releases typically come and go without much fanfare. By their very nature, they're incremental, bringing modest performance and security updates, and not much else. The latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, iOS 14.5, released yesterday, is different. Why? Three words: App Tracking Transparency (ATT). First …

  1. Andy Non
    Facepalm

    So if

    a disabled person calls another disabled person and neither can touch the screen to terminate the call, the call continues indefinitely or until the phone's battery dies? Sounds well thought out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sounds well thought out.

      You have to remember that for 80% of all industries "accessibility" is all about pork barrel contracts with firms that would run a mile if they ever met a disabled person.

      If you have a significant family member who uses a wheelchair you'll know what I mean.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So if

      The problem with getting a voice assistant to end a call if twofold,

      One the assistance needs to be listening into the call to hear the trigger phrase.

      The second and far bigger problem is what should be the end phrase.

      I.e. if it is bye then anyone trying to order something could get cut off.

      Or should it be something like a fart sound - which would be very inconvenient for some people I know....

      Now there is a list for the commentards to add to.....

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        Re: So if

        "One the assistance needs to be listening into the call to hear the trigger phrase. The second and far bigger problem is what should be the end phrase."

        Neither of these are problems at all. The former is no different from the mere existence of voice assistants. If you don't have a problem with it listening to you at all times waiting for an activation phrase, why would you suddenly have a problem with it continuing to function during a phone call? Most people are perfectly happy to use their phone while sitting next to an Alexa speaker, and this is no different.

        As for the second, far from being a bigger problem we've already demonstrated that it is not a problem in any way. It was a running joke in the early days of voice activated thingies about how they would handle things like TV shows trying to be realistic by incorporating voice commands used in-show, or what would happen if two people in the street happened to be trying to use commands at the same time. The solution turned out to be that it's just such a vanishingly rare problem that no solution is needed. It's trivial to have an activation phrase that just doesn't come up in normal conversation, and even without having any filtering or voice recognition phones just don't pick up commands from nearby people - the idea of walking down a busy street and saying "Hey Google, call Mum" in a loud voice doesn't actually result in anything happening.

        In this specific case, all you need is to say something like "Siri, end call". No-one is going to accidentally end a call unless they're deliberately screwing around.

        1. The Mole

          Re: So if

          Unfortunately you are wrong on both counts.

          Firstly when you make a phone call two parties are involved, you may not have a problem with your phone listening into you the rest of the time, but the other person might. Even if it is only listening into the microphone when the phone is on loudspeaker it could in theory be listening in on the other end.

          On the second point there are numerous news stories highlighting the fact that the running joke was in fact accurate. There have been adverts triggering voice assistance up to and including triggering purchases to be made. Some solutions have been done to try to minimize it (such as user recognition and black lists) but if you do a search even Google's own adverts have sill trigger some devices in recent years.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Re: So if

      As an Android user, this made me wonder about Apple.

      I can have Google Assistant call using a voice command for as long as I can remember. I can tell it to end a call by saying end call. It is not a special accessibility function, it's available to all users.

      Then again, Google doesn't offer a phone in purple.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: So if

        But then again, do you trust Google not to snoop on the call?

        Maybe this should be a Joke or a Big Brother icon?? >>====>

        1. Alumoi Silver badge

          Re: So if

          Yeap, same as I trust my provider not to snoop on the call.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: So if

            At least your provider has a legally mandated requirement to offer such facilities for law enforcement, and it's very controlled (for a simple reason: they get to charge for it), where Google is as uncontrolled as any US company can get with enough money to buy the laws it wants.

      2. sabroni Silver badge

        Re: Google doesn't offer a phone in purple.

        It also doesn't force apps to tell you that they're tracking you and why.

        So they're definitely better than Apple on the accessibility front, but shit for your privacy and matching ensemble.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So Zuck is pissed off? Now that's a recommendation in itself

    I have most of my devices on the beta track, but my work phone is vanilla production. I haven't looked at the update yet, but Zuckerberg being annoyed with it is reason enough for me.

    Yes, I'm shallow. Sosumi.

    :)

  3. JohnMurray

    Answer only works if using airpods.....

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Well, yeah, if you're too poor to be able to afford such "magical" and "gamecharging" "optional essentials™" then what do you expect? Stop spending your disability benefit on worthless gimmicks like mobility support and spend it on really transformative toys tech.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        It's a good thing AirPods work so well with hearing aids... Oh wait a second my ears are already populated, so I can't use AirPods...

        Accessibility features aren't just for disabled people, everyone gets a benefit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Actually, iPhones work well with hearing aids equipped for connectivity, even too well.

          My late mother caused no end of confusion when she suddenly started talking in the hospital - the nurses missed that she just picked up a call from a relative. That said, it took ages to get her to a point where she could adjust them herself, as always, the UI designers of that config app had refused to even consider the idea that someone with diminishing cognitive skills would want to use it.

          I have seen UI things in old people's home whose designers should be made to mate with a cactus as punishment. Three layers of menu before they can switch on the TV? WTF?

      2. RegGuy1 Silver badge
        1. Korev Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: You could sell your kidney...

          I seem to remember reading that he has special needs and they took advantage of him...

  4. JimmyPage

    Not quite related ... but fucking irritating

    Was (because I haven't tried since) how once summoned, the Google assistant needed a fucking keypress to go away again.

    No big deal unless you are using your phone as a sat nav, someone says "OK google" and you lose your screen until an illegal keypress.

  5. mhoneywell

    Apple = The New Google

    But with nicer hardware. It may stop -ad tech- tracking you. But Apple will track you.

  6. big_D Silver badge

    Mask unlock

    It also brought Mask FaceID unlock - which deactivates FaceID completely, if it sees a mask and you Apple Watch is in the vicinity.

    After Jake Moore at eSet said his 8yo daughter could open the phone with a mask on, Davey Winder (Forbes) tested it as well and, with him upstairs, at the other end of the house, his wife could still open his iPhone, when wearing a mask. On at least one occasion, the vibration warning to inform the Watch wearer that the phone has been unlocked didn't go off / wasn't noticeable.

    This is a boon for iPhone + Watch users having problems unlocking with masks on, but they should be aware that FaceID just recognizes a mask and gives up all attempts at identification and the phone just checks to see if the watch is within shouting distance (100M on a good day).

    1. Nifty Silver badge

      Re: Mask unlock

      It's letting any masked face unlock because the real user has used the PIN several times wearing a mask and therefore 'trained' the recognition wrongly. Still surprising as I thought much had been made of iPhones needing infrared info about pulse from face skin, plus eye contact even through glasses, etc.

    2. BobBob

      Re: Mask unlock

      Interesting. I understood it still looked for your eyes to recognise when unlocking and your watch has to be pretty close.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Mask unlock

        Unfortunately, you just need the watch in the general area.

        Somebody showed a video of a stuffed Teddybear with a mask on unlocking his iPhone.

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "it will reduce the effectiveness and profitability of targeted ads"

    Good.

    Targetted ads need to disappear, along with the privacy invasion that they impose.

    As for the disabled, companies apparently need to give a lot more thought as to how their tech works. Not being able to end a call is ridiculous. How can any group of people take the call project and not deal with how to end the call ?

  8. Dave559 Silver badge
    Pint

    "a modern-day version of Jeremy Bentham's panopticon, but with GIFs"

    Hehe, that phrase deserves a beer, I think!

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