“Hey Siri, call my date and tell them I’m just not that into them.”
It may seem a little farfetched, but Apple’s virtual personal assistant, Siri, has gone through her terrible teens and is now rocking an adult outlook on life.
Sure, you can still pimp her to order your pizza, but guess what? Following an IQ boost from Apple, Siri has been hitting the books to improve her general knowledge and is now able to handle complex human interactions.
“Hey Siri, buy me some new pyjamas; the ones I’m wearing need washing.”
Apple introduced Siri with iPhone 4S in 2011. Despite rudimentary functionality, this new mobile virtual assistant was helpful, cracked wise and wasn’t afraid to hand out a little sass – aspects of her behavior that drew attention away from her shortcomings.
It didn’t take long for the rest of the world to catch up to the functionality offered by Siri. Both Google and Microsoft launched virtual assistants the next year – Google Now and Cortana, respectively.
“Hey Siri, I need help.”
It’s now 2016, and the war of the virtual assistants has well and truly heated up. While Apple, Google, Amazon and Samsung all offer virtual assistants to varying degrees, what separates each one now is the depth and scope of their abilities.
For Siri, this has meant the development of complex learning features to allow her to recognize when you need help.
When a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine of virtual assistants from Microsoft, Samsung, Google and Apple found the services lacked the ability to handle serious queries regarding physical and mental health, Apple imbued Siri with the ability to render help if life takes an unexpected turn.
Covering a range of serious concerns – from domestic violence and physical abuse, to suicidal thoughts and general mental health – Siri has swapped sass for the ability to connect you directly to help and advice services.
“It shows they’re listening and paying attention and responding. We’re excited about the precedent this sets for companies to respond to public health needs,” Eleni Linos, co-author of the study, told the Associated Press.
“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
Unfortunately, like a number of other Apple services, these features don’t function perfectly in Australia just yet. It appears the resources to give iPhone users in our colonial nation a virtual hand didn’t make it across the Pacific.
For the time being, for some concerns you’ll have to be content with Siri offering you a Yahoo search on the topic you bring up, or a link to an overseas service, in lieu of direct assistance.
If you or someone you know require assistant for domestic violence or any other form of abuse, confidential help can be found by calling Reach Out on 1800 7377328 (RESPECT).
If you are experiencing difficulties and would simply like someone to speak to, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.