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Siri on Apple HomePods being triggered by ad for NBA on TNT

Advertisers are beginning to target the wakeword for Apple's Siri assistant in the same way they've previously gone after Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant users, anecdotes suggest.

Apple HomePod



A current NBA on TNT ad is using the phrase "Don't wanna miss out? Hey Siri show me the NBA schedule," according to multiple people on Reddit, and confirmed by AppleInsider testing. The original poster noted that the ad triggered his HomePod, although it could also theoretically trigger any device with always-on "Hey Siri" support, which includes most iPhones and iPads since 2015's iPhone 6s.

Limited AppleInsider testing has shown the ad to not activate an iPhone or iPad at normal use distance away from a television. The HomePod is likely more sensitive to the command induced by the advertising because of the microphone technology designed to listen to a user from farther away than a portable device.

During Siri setup, iPhones and iPads ask owners to train them on their unique voices to reduce such incidents. It's uncertain if that training data is carried over to a HomePod, but regardless, the speaker is known to respond to non-owners.

A year ago, a similar commercial from Burger King targeted owners of Android phones and Google Home speakers with the phrase "OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?" While some people may have appreciated the novelty of the ad, others complained about it hijacking their devices. It also appeared that Burger King edited the Whopper's Wikipedia entry to sound like promotional text.

Amazon Alexa has also been targeted in third-party ads, but notably Amazon has made sure that its own ads for Echo speakers emit a sound which prevents Alexa devices from waking up.

Both Amazon and Google devices are regularly triggered by accident, since Alexa and Google Assistant often come up in media like TV shows, YouTube clips, and podcasts. The same problem can affect Siri, and could become more prevalent as Apple ventures deeper into smartspeakers, which often sit near radios and TVs.

The HomePod has sometimes been criticized for not being able to distinguish individual users — a particular problem given its ability to read out personal information such as text messages. Apple is ramping up Siri development though, and recently even poached Google's head of AI and search, John Giannandrea, to take charge of its own AI and machine learning efforts.