Siri doubles iPhone 4S data consumption

According a report by network metrics firm Arieso, iPhone 4S users are consuming twice the amount of data than users of earlier iPhone models, and the reason is Siri. Siri is getting the blame for the huge increase in data consumption as it communicates with Apple’s servers to provide its personal assistant features.

"Voice is the ultimate human interface,” Arieso Chief Technology Officer Michael Flanagan said in an interview in London. “As you lower the barriers,” consumers will use their smartphones’ functions even more often, he said. Arieso, based in Atlanta, advises clients such as Vodafone Group Plc (VOD), Telefonica SA (TEF) and Nokia Siemens Networks Oy on how to manage wireless networks.

Data consumption remains a concern for those on restricted plans and on networks like AT&T that have historically suffered connectivity problems due to excessive load. Arieso claims to have measured one million subscribers across a single European network in both urban and rural areas to come up with its findings about Siri. We can understand a small increase in data with the additional functionality that Siri brings, however, it shouldn't be forgotten that iOS 5 was also released for other devices at the same time as the iPhone 4S was launched with Siri. iOS 5 brought a little extra service called iCloud too. We are sure a lot of this additional data usage could be explained by over the air updates, iTunes in the Cloud, Photo Stream and many other data intensive tasks available for iPads and earlier iPhone models and not just Siri on the iPhone 4S.

And if Siri is responsible for the spike, it will be interesting to see what if any decline results when the novelty wears off. How many times can you really ask how to hide a body, or have the pod bay doors opened?

Source: Bloomberg

chrisoldroyd

UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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Reader comments

Siri doubles iPhone 4S data consumption

26 Comments

Photo Stream would seem to use the most data. If you take a few photos to get it right, even the rejects are being uploaded to iCloud and Photo Stream. OTA updates and backups are WiFi only so they shouldn't be causing any of the extra data consumption. Who knows, maybe Siri does a lot of post-processing and communicating with Apple after the fact and that is driving up data use, it may be part of the reason the 4S gets shorter battery life.

idk about siri help doubling data. siri uses small amounts of data i would think that its probably more to do with faster data speeds ie ATT etc. The phone itself is also fast so probably draws people to be on it even more.

If Siri processes all speach on its server, the ammount of data transmitted might not be so small, since it will convert analog to digital and transmit a meaningful ammount of data for the processor to understand. With frequent use I can see how this adds up quickly.

Nah there was some testing done and Siri is actually pretty data efficient. What I'm guessing is that people are excited to use their new iPhones and show it off to their friends so their data usage is high. I'm guessing when the initial appeal of Siri wears off (if they don't find a way to integrate it into their lives) then usage will level off.

Data efficiency is relative. It might be data efficient in the realm of speech processing, emulation, and transmission but that doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't use a lot of data for that purpose compared to other data services.

People love to bash the Blackberry but it is a very light user of data compared, carriers want to minimize the amount of data going over their networks. Increased data usage can't make carriers happy no matter what the cause, except for the fact they can charge overages for all the data usage.

I can see how Siri would increase data usage by an attention grabbing amount. I have unlimited data, so it doesn't really matter to me, but I can see how others would get upset. (Custom iPad cases www.portenzo.com)

Don't forget about battery consumption too. SIRI drains the battery faster then anything else on the iPhone 4S.

While iCloud is a factor, I think it likely that the heaviest data users were the most likely to upgrade, so that the 4S has a much lower percentage of minimal users dragging the average down than does the 4. The 4S average rate may change as holiday purchases activate, but the 4 average data usage will drop even more as price sensitive users come on board after the latest round of price cuts. What would be interesting is a longitudinal study comparing the same users' data usage on the 4 vs the 4s.

Interesting since everything else I've read says Siri uses very little data. I read somewhere that you would have to use it every 2 minutes 24 hours a day for a month to hit 2GB which is very unrealistic.

For it to use more data that would require that you actual use it. I think I have used it maybe 10 times since I got my phone. I think Siri was a waste of time and money for Apple.

Very misleading. Siri does add to data use, but it doesn't double it. Overall data use may be doubled for the 4S, but that's not all Siri. This is pretty poor analysis and comprehension.
BTW, complete fail on the site name change.

I was just looking at my data consumption and noticed I went from a consistent 0.5gb per month (really consistent over the last couple of years) to 1.5gb in November and December. I did a lot of phone switching in the last couple of months (iPhone 4, Blackberry Torch 2, iPhone 4S, Samsung Galaxy S2 and back to the iPhone 4S) so I can't really say for certain it was the 4S. Weird.

I rarely, use siri, most of the time i try, it says it can't connect right now, or simply does nothing if I am just transcribing for a text. Am I the only one having problems?

considering how bad my sprint data (los angeles) i'm not that concerned that concerned about how much data i use. it barely connects. Last night i did a speed test and once got a zero download. and three times got an upload faster then my download. And the upload was damn slow.

"Siri doubles iPhone 4S data consumption"?
This has to be one of the dumbest iPhone headlines I've ever seen.
Doesn't anyone around here understand the difference between correlation and causation?
Geez.

Might not be Siri using the extra data. But the data that you just asked Siri to pull in. Be it weather, traffic, maps ect. You could still say Siri is the cause of the extra data in a manner of speaking.
But you asked for it.

I think a visualized display can be better then only a simple text, if stuff are defined in images one can easily be familiar with these.