Siri’s Guilty Secret: Data Guzzling

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Everyone loves Siri, the iPhone 4S’ virtual personal assistant with a particularly snappy comeback for certain questions. But what they may not love is the amount of data Siri uses in catering to your every whim.

A report from Ars Technica suggests that overuse of Siri could unknowingly force users over their monthly data limit. Every Siri-related request gets sent to Apple’s data centers for processing, even if all you’re doing is asking it to add something to your phone’s calendar—something that many might assume wouldn’t require any data usage whatsoever.

(MORE: Watch: Siri Has Trouble Recognizing Scottish Accents)

Ars Technica’s Jacqui Cheng did some math and worked out a rough guide to how much data you’re likely using with Siri:

“If you use Siri 2-3 times per day at an average of 63KB per instance, you might expect to use 126KB to 189KB per day, or 3.7 to 5.5MB per month. For 4-6 times a day, that might come out to 252KB to 378KB per day, or 7.4 to 11MB per month. If you use it 10-15 times per day, you might end up using 630KB to 945KB per day, or 18.5 to 27.7MB per month.”

Some caveats: The 63KB per request figure is an average amount based on a number of tests—and a relatively high average; requests that require additional internet look-up beyond the processing of the request obviously use more data, with different types of requests having a different range of data amounts. Sending text messages through Siri use less data than sending email, for example, and setting calendar events uses less data than looking something up on Google.

It’s unlikely that someone who isn’t using Siri obsessively is going to incur data overages, based on these numbers, but it’s worth bearing in mind that Siri is going to eat data for everything you ask her to do. So maybe you should just use your fingers to dial that number, just in case.

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Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.