Apple's Siri 'doubles' iPhone 4S data usage

Summary:iPhone 4S users are using almost twice as much data than its predecessors, according to a study. Apple's Siri is thought to be driving up the data usage, but it's not unique to the iPhone.

According to a new study, iPhone 4S users are using nearly twice as much data than they were using an older iPhone 4.

One of the main causes is thought to be Apple's new intelligent assistant, Siri, which uses voice to request queries from the web, set appointments, and seek out the latest weather report. It can also be used to ask daft questions.

Siri was launched with the iPhone 4S in October last year, and was billed as one of the flagship features to the latest Apple smartphone. The assistant requires either Wi-Fi or a 3G connection to work, as the translated voice text is sent to Apple's servers for processing.

Bloomberg spoke to Arieso's chief technology officer Michael Flanagan in London. "Voice is the ultimate human interface", he said, speaking about voice-assistance breakthroughs like Siri.

But the iPhone 4S is not alone, and certainly not unique to this data-gobbling problem.

The report also highlighted the Google Nexus One as one of the biggest uploaders, followed by the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10i, and HTC Desire owners.

Arieso said it measured over 1 million subscribers across one European network in both urban and rural areas, but did not identify the network operator.

A different study conducted by Ars Technica discovered that Siri's data usage is more efficient based on the type of query considered, and the amount of voice data it is given in the first place.

Outside the realms of Siri, increased mobile social networking, email usage and browsing is driving up users' data traffic. It's no secret that we as a society are consuming far more data than ever before, with faster 4G networks and higher data caps.

The research said that a minority of users account for half of downloaded data. "The hungry are getting hungrier", Flanagan said.

BlackBerry smartphones use data compression technology to increase network efficiency, and cut down on exceeding data plans. Research in Motion says that users can browse twice as long than an iPhone 3GS using the same amount of data, and use four-times more email data.

But Apple does not use such technology without third-party applications.

Perhaps iPhone 4S users should be given a 'Siri data plan', specifically to mitigate such data plan excesses? Having said that, the networks relish the day you go over your limit, so they can charge you an arm, a leg, and your first born child as payment in return, as I once discovered.

Image source: CBS News.

Related:

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Networking, Smartphones

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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