As more information becomes available on the coronavirus pandemic, tech companies are trying to make it easier to receive it and fight against fake news about the virus. Apple has updated Siri to provide COVID-19 information to people looking for answers.
According to reports, users can ask Siri questions like “How do I know if I have coronavirus” or “Do I have coronavirus?” and it will offer advice based on their symptoms. The functionality started working over the past weekend.
When you first ask Siri about the virus, the voice assistant immediately wants to know whether you are experiencing related symptoms. This includes a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, among others. If users have other underlying health issues they are immediately advised to call the emergency services. If the user isn’t sure of any additional illnesses, they are informed of the disease’s symptoms and told to self-isolate if they appear.
Of course, the source of Siri’s data is very important when it comes to life or death health information. Siri’s answers are being provided from the US’s Public Health Service, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For the time being, the functionality is mostly useful to American users, but Apple is expected to roll it out to users across the world with local information and health providers. When you currently ask Siri for this assistance in another area, it will provide you with a link to a local information page.
Google, Facebook and Microsoft have launched similar efforts to make relevant and important available to people around the world. Facebook has added a coronavirus information center to the top of its News Feed in the United States which passes on information from the World Health Organization and CDC, while Google has also launched an informational site. Microsoft, meanwhile, has launched an interactive map, and also worked with the CDC to produce a “self-checker” chatbot.