Apple enhances its Apple Maps search results in order to fix the flaw that was discovered on its system a couple of years ago.
The issue was particularly a concern among those who used Siri and its voice recognition service in searching for "abortions."
In the beginning, users who were searching for "abortions" gained little or no information from the service.
Months later, the issue seemed to had become worse when Siri and Apple Maps, which then started to recognize the word "abortion," showed results that are instead geared towards "adoption."
"If Siri is silent on abortion, women will often look for information elsewhere," said Kim Custer, VP of Planned Parenthood. "But suggesting an adoption clinic might add to the existing stigma about abortions."
Back in 2011 when the issue on the system had been noticed, Apple explained that the omission of terms such as "abortion clinics" and "birth control" in the results is due to a glitch. While the company's attention had been called for and a glitch was acknowledged as the culprit, the move to resolve the issue seemed to be rather slow.
Four years later, Fast Company rekindled the issue by testing both Siri and Apple Maps using various locations across San Francisco. After entering the search term "abortion" in Maps and asking the question "Where can I find an abortion provider" to Siri, the company was directed to a domestic and international adoption agency known as Heartsent Adoptions which is located almost 48 kilometers (almost 30 miles) outside of the city.
A couple of days ago, the publication company had once again performed similar searches and had now been able to receive a more comprehensive list of facilities that the search labeled as "Planned Parenthood" as well as to other providers of abortion. While adoption clinics continue to appear in the search, they are at least being relegated to the bottom of the list.
Planned Parenthood doesn't wholly label itself as an abortion clinic since abortions only make up 3 percent of its services.
While Apple has yet to comment on the sudden change, the publication attributed the new location-based Apple Nearby feature of iOS 9 Maps as part of the improvement. It also added that Apple must have been consistent in enhancing its Maps product by building stronger collaborations with new data providers and working on several ways to provide better search algorithms.
Sean Gourley, a data scientist based in Silicon Valley who is also an expert in learning algorithms, had analyzed the issue and tried to explain why Planned Parenthood was only categorized in the search as a possible abortion provider.
"Apple is not a search company, unlike Google, and its knowledge base is very different," said Gourley.
He added that Apple, instead of pulling data from its own databases, would usually gather them from third-party resources such as Foursquare and Yelp.