Icon WebMD Expert Blogs

This blog has been retired.


The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, review, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have... Expand

The opinions expressed in WebMD User-generated content areas like communities, reviews, ratings, or blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. User-generated content areas are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD User-generated content as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Smartphone May Be Kind of Dumb

Anytime a new Apple product comes out, people line up, ooh and ahh, and then start tearing it apart. Most recently, Siri, the “virtual assistant” on the iPhone 4, has come under attack for having some pretty significant health-related knowledge gaps. Although Siri can tell you where to find the best sushi in your neighborhood or the closest dog park, it doesn’t have a clue where you can buy birth control. This cluelessness is even more baffling when you realize that Siri has no trouble telling users where they can buy Viagra. Apparently it can also direct users to rather unsavory (and illegal) services, but doesn’t know what to tell someone who’s just been sexually assaulted (instead of directing them to the police or hospital, Siri provides long-term crisis-management referrals.)

Now, I don’t know how this happened—Apple is claiming it was a glitch—but I do know that if you’re going to call something a “smartphone,” maybe it’s best to focus less on giving it a sassy personality and more on making sure it’s got basic information on it, especially basic health information. Apple’s an amazing company that’s changed many of our lives and the way we play and communicate, but as many people have pointed out, this is something that really should be addressed. Siri is still technically being tested out, and after all the publicity Apple’s gotten recently, they’re surely scrambling to iron out this particular kink. Hopefully, they’ll be a bit more careful in the future.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you experienced Siri firsthand? What do you think of the feature? Any knowledge gaps you think are problematic?

Posted by: Brianne Moore at 4:15 pm