Mountain Lion’s Dictation feature causes privacy concerns

Ashleigh Allsopp
27 July, 2012
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With the launch of Apple’s OS X Mountain Lion comes the arrival of Dictation on the Mac. The new feature can convert speech to text within applications, but users are concerned about their privacy when using Dictation, as it can send personal data, including Contacts, to Apple’s server.

Apple has made sure that users are aware of the privacy issues relating to Dictation. Before enabling the feature for the first time, Apple notes: “When you dictate text, what you say is sent to Apple to be converted to text. To help your Mac recognise what you’re saying, other information is sent as well, such as your contacts.”

Further information about privacy when using Dictation can be found by clicking the “About Dictation & Privacy” button, which appears when enabling the feature. The explanation reads:

“When you use the keyboard dictation feature on your computer, the things you dictate will be recorded and sent to Apple to convert what you say into text. Your computer will also send Apple other information, such as your first name and nickname; and the names, nicknames, and relationship with you (for example “my dad”) of your address book contacts. All of this data will be used to help the dictation feature understand you better and recognise what you say. Your User Data is not linked to other data that Apple may have from your use of other Apple services.”

“Information collected by Apple will be treated in accordance with Apple’s Privacy Policy, which can be found at,” the explanation continues.

Apple says that users can choose to turn off Dictation at any time, but older voice input data that has been disassociated from you may be retained for a period of time to improve Dictation and other Apple products and services. “This data may include audio files and transcripts of what you said and related diagnostic data, such as hardware and operating system specifications and performance statistics,” the explanation concludes.


Mountain Lion’s Dictation turns off MacBook’s fan in order to hear better

Apple has demonstrated its attention to detail in Mountain Lion, by programming the new Dictation feature to disable the MacBook’s fan so it can hear the user better.

9to5Mac reported on this clever finishing touch after Stuart Miles tweeted “Now that’s crazy – using Dictation in Mountain Lion turns the fan off briefly on the MacBook Air so it can hear me.”

Mountain Lion was released on the Mac App Store on Wednesday, causing broadband operators to see a huge spike in traffic from Apple’s servers.



2 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. A Scary World says:

    Well, if you thought Orson Welles’ science fiction book “1984″ with Big Brother watching our every move was just that — science fiction — think again. Apple has managed to make a fine art of watching everything we do on our Macs anywhere in the world, all presumably on the basis of providing a better service and improve the OS in future years. Yeah right, and I believe in Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny.

    Hey Apple, do you also want a picture of my ass to store on your “you beaut” iCloud server so you can analyse it in all its glory and send me tailored-made adverts telling me I have haemorrhoids and need an ointment to relieve my discomfort?

  2. DrTS says:

    How sending ANY data to Apple and its servers, where the actual conversion takes place, is going to “help my Mac recognize what I’m saying?” It’s a misuse to say that the Mac recognizes. BTW, it takes up to 10 seconds per a short sentence to process, when dictating from Europe, according to my own observation, on 5 Mb/s (upload) / 50 Mb/s (download) connection.

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