Whether you’re a Siri or more of an Alexa person, it’s probably safe to say you’ve come into contact with these virtual assistants. They’ve become household names, and they are all but built into our lives at this point.
But let’s not forget that they lack human intellect, so things can — and do — go wrong from time to time. And we’re here to give you a prime example.
Here’s the big mistake that happens when you say ‘14’ to Siri.
To be fair, it’s not actually a glitch; what happens when you say 14 to Siri is intentional. It just doesn’t make sense at face value to us.
See, when you say the number 14 to Siri, your phone is instantly set up to call emergency services. You have 3 seconds to cancel the call before it automatically connects you to the authorities, HITC reports.
Pretty shocking, right? It’s a number that could come up in any conversation, and seems pretty random to us in the U.S.
So why ‘14’ for emergency services?
In the U.S., 911 is our universally known way to connect with emergency services from any phone. In the U.K., it’s 999. We’re used to three-digit emergency codes.
But in many other countries, that number is two digits, including — you guessed it — 14. That’s the magic number in Algeria, a number of African countries, and more.
So this Siri response is meant to protect people needing help in any country, at any time.
“It’s helpful for people in a foreign country, who might not necessarily know the number for the emergency services there," according to HITC. "It can get them out of a hole in a stressful time. The number 14 is the emergency services number in certain countries and that's why Siri goes to dial them up even when you give the command in this country.”
But beware of saying ‘17’ to Siri, too.
Although it seems totally harmless, this is another number to steer clear of when speaking to Siri unless you know what it does.
Why? Because it’s the connection code to fire and police stations in countries including Chad, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali and Niger.
The Siri User Guide shares, “The Apple developers programmed your iPhone to automatically call the local emergency number, even if you say the code for your home country. So saying '911' in France will get you immediate help in France. Likewise, speaking '17' will do the same in the U.S. Because it is an emergency number in many other countries.”
iPhone users have mixed reactions.
There’s a shared notion that our phones are always listening, right? So this makes the idea of accidentally (and needlessly) sounding the alarm just by saying a word in your everyday vocabulary a little scary.
The internet has no shortage of reactions from Siri users everywhere on this meant-to-be-helpful feature.
There are also misleading threads that tell people their battery charge will increase if they say 14 or 17 to Siri, which is clearly not so.
Stay safe and in-the-know with your Siri capabilities (and potential downfalls.) We’ll bring you more tips and tricks as we find them!