For many people, what they see going on around them is a sure sign that the world is coming to an end. We're in the middle of a global pandemic, we've recently seen tornadoes and vicious wind storms zip through several states, and Apple and Google are working together on a contact tracing tool. And if that isn't enough proof that something strange is going on, Siri also sees the world coming to an end very soon according to some iPhone users.
Is Siri calling for the world to end soon?
Fast Company reports that some people have been asking Apple's flawed digital assistant questions that they really don't need answers to. For example, to kill time several iPhone users asked, "Hey Siri, how long until 2020 ends?" The proper answer today would be 260 days. But some are receiving a response from Siri that is scaring the hell out of them. The virtual digital assistant is telling some users that there are only minutes to hours left in the year which is being interpreted as the end of the world.
But unlike most of the bad answers that Siri might give you, there is actually a valid reason for this response. Since much of the world uses a 24 hour clock (like military time where 2 pm is known as 1400 hours), when Siri was asked how long until 2020 ends, it was calculating the number of hours between the current time and when 8:20 pm (2020).
We just asked Siri the question, "How long until 2020 ends?" and in typical Siri fashion, we were told that the last day of 2020 will be Thursday, December 31st, 2020. That really doesn't answer the question. When we asked Google Assistant the same question, it also supplied us with the wrong answer. Google's digital helper incorrectly said 261 days were left in the year as the calculation was based on Fast Company's article which was published on April 15th. Since 2020 is a leap year, including today, there are 160 days left in the year.
As we said earlier this year, Apple definitely needs to work on Siri. Part of the problem is that the digital assistant often does not understand the question being asked it. Earlier this month, Apple might have taken a huge step forward toward improving Siri by reportedly purchasing an Irish company called Voysis. The latter offers a platform allowing digital assistants to understand the human language better. Voysis fits the MO of a company that Apple would be interested in because it is small, under the radar, and could deliver improvements to Siri very quickly. A purchase of Voysis could join other similar transactions made by Apple in the past including the 2010 acquisition of SIRI (which resulted in Siri, of course), the 2011 purchase of biometric firm AuthenTec (which led to the development of Touch ID), and the 2014 purchase of Beats Audio (from which Apple Music launched). Of course, the Beats Music purchase was a little out of the box for Apple since it cost the company $3 billion and remains its largest purchase of all time.
So now that we know that Siri isn't warning us about an abrupt end to the world (even though it still might feel like it) you can breathe a sigh of relief. If you own an iOS device and are generally unsatisfied with Siri, you can install the Google Assistant app from the App Store. Using the Shortcuts feature, we can activate Google Assistant by voice although you might be embarrassed if someone hears you doing this. If you've correctly setup Shortcuts, you can say "Hey Siri, Okay Google" to activate Google's superior digital helper.