Siri “Content Not Available” Work-around: No middle names!

A couple weeks ago, my wife (we’ll call her Jane Isa Doe) got a new iPhone & phone number, so I edited her contact card in my iPhone 4s to add it.  I also made a few other updates to her card, deleted a few duplicates, and updated a couple other cards – all on my iPhone 4s while we were driving on a long trip.  I don’t know what happened, but  somehow, something went wrong and ever since then, Siri caught amnesia with regard to most of my saved relationships (e.g. wife, mom, dad, sister, etc.).  I had only edited a couple cards, but Siri forgot a whole bunch of people with whom I have saved relationships.  I posted about this before, but basically, the exchange with Siri since this problem began has been like this:

Me: “Call my wife”

Siri: “Uh oh, I don’t have a phone number for Jane Isa Doe.” and beneath, there’s a message: “Content Not Available”

Me: “Call Jane Doe

Siri: “Calling Jane Isa Doe…”

I checked everything I could think of to fix the problem, short of the full iPhone reset recommended by Apple’s iCloud support.  I tried removing the wife relationship on my computer and then telling Siri who my wife was again.  I tried exporting, deleting, and re-importing my wife’s contact card and then re-establishing the relationship.  I tried turning iCloud’s contacts sync off & back on (and now 85% of my contacts now have duplicates, some with outdated info – thanks Apple).  I tried turning Siri off & back on.  I tried cycling the power on the phone.  I’m sure there are a bunch of other things I tried that I can’t even remember.  I’ve worked at it for hours.  Nothing worked.  Others experiencing this same issue even went to the drastic measure of removing iCloud from all their devices and rebuilding it on all their devices.  I was unwilling to go to such 90s-windows-style blunt-force problem-solving lengths.

Anyway, I was waiting for a bus today and set about trying to find a way to fix this issue so that I could just get “Call my wife” to work.  A couple relationships were working, and on a hunch, I figured out a way to get around this issue.  Note, this is not a fix, but rather a hacky bandaid, but after doing this, Siri will remember the contact info of your relations.

All I had to do was remove the middle names from the names stored in my relationships in my contact card!  I did it on my computer and waited a second or two for the card to update on my iPhone, but after doing this, I tried telling Siri to “Call my wife” and Siri would then ask me if I’d like her to remember that Jane Isa Doe is my wife.  When I clicked yes, I watched on my computer as a new/duplicate “spouse” relationship showed up in my contact card with my wife’s full name (including her middle name).  After that, when I tried “Call my wife” or “Tell my wife this is a test”, it worked as expected.  I did this for all the malfunctioning contacts (I had 14 with middle names).

Note, after Siri created the duplicate relationships, I tried removing the one with the middle name that Siri created and the one without.  When I remove the new one with the middle name, Siri again asks me if I want her to remember the relationship and again creates the duplicate.  When I remove the one without the middle name, Siri responds with the “Content Not Available” error.  So I guess I will just live with the duplicate relationships.  It’s a quick fix for this issue.  Hopefully it will last.

It’s interesting to note that those contact relationships who were a business or didn’t have a middle name have worked all along.  So it’s possible that this is a corruption issue specific to middle names.  If that’s just a coincidence, I suspect it’s possible that Siri’s got a bad copy of these relationships and if the new ones without middle names I created get corrupted, I’ll have to either try first names only… or go to more drastic measures.

It’s also interesting to note that Siri knew my wife’s name all along.  Siri could even locate her on a map (Find Friends) when I asked where she was.  I could even call her if I used her name.  If I told Siri that “Jane Doe is my wife”, Siri would say she already knew Jane Isa Doe was my wife.

As to a possible cause for this issue having come about in the first place, I’ve read that iCloud has some issues with contacts & Siri when contacts are synced with an exchange account.  I figure that’s my best lead.  I only sync my contacts via iCloud.  None of my other accounts (facebook, google, etc) sync contacts.  However, there was one suspicious clue I can recall when I added my wife’s new phone number 2 weeks ago.  Somehow, I had a duplicate of my wife’s contact card and when I investigated further, it looked like it was a google contact.  I never turned that on, but somehow it was there.  I had experimented with “linking” the google contact with the iCloud version of the card, but eventually deleted the google contact and I assume I turned off contact syncing with google – though I can’t explicitly remember doing that.  All I know is that for 2 weeks, I have not had any other contacts synced other than iCloud.

UPDATE:

Looks like someone else separately found the same solution I did.  Here are links to others having the same problem.  All of them were posted within the past 2 weeks, so perhaps my theories about me inadvertently causing corruption are just based on a coincidence…

Siri responds with “Content not available”

Siri says “I don’t have a number for” and content not available

siri knows my wife, but doesn’t find her number

I found at least 1 other post on this issue in an imore.com thread that’s dated back on 2005.