Artificial Intelligence
Apple Siri

Siri has been updated to provide coronavirus advice

Apple's voice assistant checks for symptoms and provides useful information

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Apple has updated its Siri voice assistant with information about the new coronavirus from U.S. health authorities.

Siri, which features on iPhones as well as iPads, Macs and the Apple Watch, now understands when it is asked questions like "How do I know if I have coronavirus?" and "Do I have coronavirus?"

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The update was made over the weekend and uses information provided by the U.S. Public Health Service, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

First spotted by CNBC, the new information given to Siri means it can talk Apple users through the common symptoms associated with the coronavirus, and urges people who have symptoms to stay home and self-isolate. It also recommends that users call a medical provider if their symptoms get worse, and if they are aged 65 or older.

Siri also provides links to telehealth apps on the App Store for anyone who can't currently reach a healthcare provider by phone.

When asked about COVID-19, Siri begins by saying: "If you're worried you might have coronavirus, a few questions can help you understand your situation."

If you agree to continue, the assistant then asks if you have a fever, dry cough, or trouble breathing. You can answer yes, no or not sure, before Siri moves onto the next question and explains that if those symptoms appear, you should separate yourself from others.

Siri also says: "Contact a medical provider if your condition worsens, you're age 65 or over, or you have a serious medical condition like lung or heart disease, or diabetes." The assistant then provides a link for opening the iOS App Store on a page offering a selection of telehealth apps. These include Amwell, Teladoc, Doctor On Demand and MDLive.

It appears that the new system only works in the US for now, as asking Siri about coronavirus in the UK only provides a link to information on the government's website.

This past weekend also saw Apple chief executive Tim Cook announce the company is donating "millions" of masks for health workers in the US and Europe.

Apple isn't alone in its bid to inform the public about coronavirus. Facebook has added a coronavirus information portal at the top of its News Feed, and Google launched a new informational website over the weekend.
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