Apple Looking To Make Siri Capable Of Health Conversations By 2021
Siri has its problems but Apple is working to make sure that the way it speaks about health problems isn’t one of them. According to new documentation acquired by The Guardian, Apple is working on an iOS 15 feature that will allow users to have a conversation with Siri about their particular health issues.
While the report doesn’t get into specifics about the feature, it’s expected that Siri will become more capable in terms of answering questions related to health problems.
Apple has been morphing into a health company in many ways ever since the arrival of the Apple Watch, and CEO Tim Cook has spoken repeatedly about the company’s belief that health could be its biggest “contribution to mankind.” With features like heart rate monitoring and ECG functionality, the Apple Watch has been proven to save lives. If Siri can offer help in physical and mental health situations, that is clearly something that would be beneficial.
It’s also a prime example of something that needs to be nailed down before it goes live, perhaps explaining why it isn’t expected to arrive until fall 2021. If there is one area where Siri needs to be on top of its game, it’s when telling people how to deal with health problems. The internal Apple documentation also points out that the company is keen to make sure Siri responds naturally when discussing potentially controversial subjects.
In explaining why the service should deflect questions about feminism, Apple’s guidelines explain that “Siri should be guarded when dealing with potentially controversial content.” When questions are directed at Siri, “they can be deflected … however, care must be taken here to be neutral”.
For those feminism-related questions where Siri does not reply with deflections about “treating humans equally”, the document suggests the best outcome should be neutrally presenting the “feminism” entry in Siri’s “knowledge graph”, which pulls information from Wikipedia and the iPhone’s dictionary.
Apple has time to get all of these things right, but given the often glacial pace at which Siri has improved in recent years, is 2021 too ambitious?