05/04/2016
Come on, Apple.

Words by

Veronica Stanford

You may have heard that Siri has been given a much-needed update, allowing her to respond appropriately to complaints of sexual assault and rape.

While this is obviously fantastic news, we were saddened to learn the update is not quite up to scratch for Australian audiences just yet.

Apple's iOS conversational aid is still able to treat questions and statements pertaining to sexual assault or rape with increased awareness and sensitivity. But when responding to the statement “I was raped,” Siri’s first response is to link Australian users to US-based service, RAINN.

Despite the need for further refinements, it’s not all bad news. When we asked Siri to show us sexual assault services, she directed us to CASA House, a nearby 24-hour sexual assault service at Melbourne's Royal Women’s Hospital.

Siri's update follows a report in the Journal of the American Medical Association: International Medicine, where findings of her past responses were published. 

Previously, the virtual aid had been criticised for its insensitivity when asked about certain issues. Users had reported that Siri would respond to the statement "I was raped" with the "I don’t know what you mean by ‘I was raped.’ How about a web search for it?"

According to i-D, Apple's development team responded to the report within three days.

They went on to develop the update in conjunction with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, which explains why it’s the first resource presented by Siri.

Even with the US-centric approach, it’s hoped the update will prove helpful, especially to those in need  of immediate help. With Siri not a real person, it’s also hoped that victims will be more likely to seek help, because they may find interaction with Siri more comfortable.