Siri and Google Assistant: Coronavirus or COVID-19 has been making global headlines for the past few months. In this age of social networking, we regularly receive forwarded messages and links to strange videos claiming one thing or another. During such difficult times, it can be hard to tell what is true or false about this novel disease.
To clear the air, many companies including Apple and Google are stepping up their efforts to combat misinformation. Two ways to get certified information are through Siri and Google Assistant. These are two popular digital assistants on the Apple and Android platforms respectively. Here’s how you can look it up for yourself.
Siri has been updated recently to help people learn about COVID-19 and what to do if they fear to have the symptoms. Whether you have an iPhone or a different Apple device, you can use Siri to determine if your symptoms are linked to the coronavirus. Ask Siri questions such as:
- “Siri, what are the coronavirus symptoms?”
- “Hey Siri, Do I have COVID-19?”
- “How can I protect myself from the coronavirus?”
Siri will then pull up the relevant information to guide you. Asking about symptoms takes you through a series of questions to assess whether you have developed the disease. Asking your questions will prompt Siri to ask what symptoms you are experiencing, such as a dry cough, shortness of breath or fever.
Moreover, if you report experiencing intense symptoms or have life-threatening pre-existing conditions, you will be advised to consult a healthcare professional. This is especially important for people older than 65 who are diabetic or have a lung or cardiac illness. If you are confused about your symptoms, Siri will enlighten you of the disease and recommend self-isolation depending on the mildness of the disease symptoms you experience.
Apple has linked to telehealth services on the App Store for the users unable to contact a healthcare professional. Another benefit of this service is that Siri offers advice on safeguarding oneself from the illness through actions like social distancing and thorough handwashing. For now, this service is more focused on users based in the USA.
You can be sure that Siri’s answers are authentic. They get the latest updates from the USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health Service.
To make reliable information available to everyone, Google has added a new “coronavirus tips” shortcut to Google Assistant. This is paired with a shortcut for searching for the latest updates on the topic.
Upon asking the Assistant for “coronavirus tips”, the user receives the WHO coronavirus definition, information about symptoms and suggestions to avoid infection. Such responses aim to provide appropriate data and be genuinely useful. On the other hand, The official guidance by the UK’s NHS offers the reassurance as follows on Android phones:
“These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.
“The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.”
Along with the tips, Google has been promoting its “Do the Five” campaign. This is to remind people to follow proper handwashing rules, avoid touching faces, cough towards their elbows, practice social distancing, and to avoid going out unless necessary. Tapping on the shortcut launches Google’s “Do the Five” page on Google Assistant. Users can also see some of the latest news concerning the pandemic while scrolling through the feed.
A more interactive feature is “Help me wash my hands”. Activate it, and Google will automatically set a timer for 40 seconds and even play a song for children!
The confusion caused by the spread of erroneous information can hinder progress in combating COVID-19. However, this is a good start for making reliable information accessible to more people. Phones are important tools for spreading news. With a digital assistant in your hand, you will always be in the know!
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