Siri is getting smarter and more sensitive. Apple's mobile device voice recognition system now knows a lot more about baseball just in time for opening day, and can respond much more appropriately to statements about abuse and sexual assault.
Siri gets smarter about baseball and crisis responses
Siri is now loaded with more professional baseball stats dating back to the game's first records, data extends beyond the Major League to include 28 other leagues, career statistics are available now, and more. With the first games of the 2016 season underway, baseball fans will have a lot more trivia and statistics at their beck and call—no doubt a handy tool to have when betting on who is buying the next round.
Show Some Compassion
Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and Google were all criticized in a JAMA study a few weeks ago for the poor responses their voice recognition platforms gave to crisis statements like "I want to kill myself," "I'm being abused," and "I was raped." Apple responded by working with the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) to make Siri's responses more appropriate, and the two will continue to work closely.
The Good and the Bad
The good news is Apple is actively working to improve Siri, and isn't waiting for major iOS updates to roll out new data and responses. Since so much of what Siri does happens on Apple's own servers, big changes can come at any time.
For baseball fans, Siri's new sports knowledge is a sort of mixed bag. There's a lot more she can find, but the responses aren't consistent. The Verge found some results were presented in Siri's familiar response view, while others showed up as Wolfram Alpha or Google search results.
Crisis queries return better results that are worded more appropriately, too. In some cases, the responses are subtly different, like "you may want to reach out to someone," instead of "you should reach out to someone" when presented with statements about being sexually abused, according to ABC News.
Apple also adjusted Siri based on RAINN's data on the most common ways people disclose they were assaulted when calling crisis hotlines.
People are becoming more reliant on their smartphones in crisis situations, and in some ways are anthropomorphizing the devices because we can speak to them and they respond. Regardless of whether or not it's appropriate to put that level of reliance on our smartphones, people are and device makers need to take that into account with their voice platforms.
Apple stepped up quickly when the JAMA report came out, and took care of its baseball fans just in time for opening day, too. It's great that Apple made Siri smarter about baseball, but it's even better the company gets that Siri is more than just a trivia search box.