back to article Hackers port iPhone 4S' Siri to rival devices

Hackers say they've reverse engineered the Siri personal assistant that debuted in last month's release of the iPhone 4S, a feat that allows them to make it work from virtually any device. To back up their claim, the hackers – from the mobile-application developer Applidium – released a collection of tools on Monday that they …


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  1. Sorry, you cannot reuse an old handle.

    [title not needed]

    tip tap on the phone?!

  2. Eddy Ito

    "Interestingly, Siri sends a huge amount of data to the Apple server"

    I thought this would be expected. It's clearly going to send all you location data in order to find the nearest pizza joint or whatnot along with who knows what else. Clearly it has to read your messages, calendar and contacts but does it secretly send all that stuff back to the mother ship?

    If you speak Swahili, Apple's secret is out.

    1. Plonkybear

      I'm Siri.....

      ....I haven't a clue

  3. Unicornpiss

    Speech recognition?

    While Siri is a 'killer app', and I find it entertaining, cute, and even useful, it's pretty disappointing, and somewhat 'cheating' if you use a big chunk of iron in the cloud to decipher every word, making the iPhone the 21st. century equivalent of a dumb terminal. At least on Android devices I think the interpretation is done locally on the device when using speech recognition.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No no no no no. Dumb terminals are called cloud devices these days.

    2. Gary Riches


      Of course it isn't. Put an Android device in flight mode and try and test the voice recognition.

      I imagine it's reasonably intensive to decipher what's being said so it would be a poor fit for mobile devices with their limited battery capacity, iOS or Android.

      1. KjetilS


        Voice recognition in Symbian works perfectly in flight mode. Wtf?

        When the aging Symbian can do it, why can't Android?

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        More than VR

        @Gary RIches:

        Voice recognition isn't really what Siri and the like are doing. VR is typically used to activate one of a relatively small set of commands using simple, fixed-form spoken triggers - as in voice dialing, for example.

        Speech-based assistant apps have to do speech-to-text (or at any rate speech-to-word-token), which is orders of magnitude more expensive than VR. Then they have to do natural-language parsing, topic identification, etc.

        So you're right, and using the phone as a terminal in this case is an appropriate allocation of resources.

    3. Andrew Woodvine

      Android must be disappointing too then

      Try putting your Android device into aeroplane mode and using speech recognition - it won't work.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All this effort for a phone gimmick?

    1. John Bailey


      It's so magical.. And Siri can talk back like a real person..

      Think of the enhancement to objectophiles when the object of their love can talk to them. If Steve hadn't given them freedom from porn, there could be a whole range of special inflatable personal docking options..

      Gimmick? Absolutely, and nothing new to be honest. A few typical phrases for maintaining the illusion, a few stock replies to common "funny questions", and the deal is done.

      1. Bill B

        'Personal Docking options'

        How do you clean tomato soup off a keyboard??

  5. Steve Ives

    and yet...

    no doubt everyone who thinks this is a great feat for 'freedom' and 'openess' will suddenly be up in arms when Apple threatens legal action over any patents they might have in this area.

    FFS, can't anyone invent their own stuff anymore?

    1. Andy E

      Re: and yet...

      I'm with you on this one. I can't see how its a great feat for freedom and openness when someone hacks a companies intellectual property and gives it away. The said company will have invested time, effort and money to deliver Siri to help distinguish the iPhone 4S from the other smart phones.

      What has happened here is just theft, plain and simple. If they are so bleeding cleaver why can't they write their own version?

      And before you start, I don't have an iPhone 4S.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not hacking/theft

        Untwist your knickers. Reverse engineering a publicly available unencrypted unsigned API not covered by licence agreements or terms of service is not theft and it's not hacking. Intellectual property has not been compromised, secrets have not been stolen.

        The loss to Apple amounts to capacity (server, bandwidth, etc). Apple can quickly implement measures to protect the API if they want. We can probably expect that they'll swiftly make it available only to iPads and iPhones.

        As for it appearing in other iDevice apps, they won't get through the approval process until such use is legitimised. It's reasonable to expect that's coming, along with an SDK, as it will only help sales of the devices

      2. Mr Brush


        Apple didn't develop Siri. The tech was developed elsewhere and bought out by Apple in 2010 to prevent the app from going cross platform.

        Of course it is still wrong to hack the tech and it does cheapen Apple's investment, but the main thrust of this is to prove that you don't need a 'magical' iPhone4S to use the product as Apple would have you believe. All the 'magic' happens upstream on a big box and the iPhone is simply a dumb delivery device for the sampled voice data.

      3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


  6. bazza Silver badge

    Test to perform

    So does this mean that if you ask Siri "Can I use Siri on Android or Blackberry" it will now answer with "yes".

    I may go into an Apple shop and try that out. It would be especially amusing if someone did just that, but used an Android phone to do so...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Android Port Incoming

    Not that I really want a speech recognition gimmick, but I would use it just to give Apple/Jobs a huge fuck you.

  8. JDX Gold badge

    Really all cloud based?

    I thought you could still 'chat' with Siri without a connection, as long as you didn't ask it anything that needed web-lookup?

  9. jai

    not exactly "cracked open" if you still have to spoof the id of a 4S and therefore can't include it in anything you wish to be widely distributed.

    reversed engineered, yes, but not really usable in the real world

  10. DrXym Silver badge

    Next up

    Someone will produce an Apple unique identifier generator / harvester and Apple will be hosed. I can imagine the fun that would cause.

  11. thesykes

    Is Siri that good?

    As a non-iPhone person, I am wondering if Siri is as good as it seems on the Apple advert? Not that I don't believe everything you see in adverts,companies would never enhance thier claims after all, but, it does look far better than any voice recognition I have ever used.

    1. Ed 11


      Siri is damn impressive but to my mind it isn't the revolutionary product Apple have spun it into. It's consistently reliable and I am often pleasently surprised by how good it is at transcribing information. I haven't set an alarm, timer or reminder using anything other than Siri since I've had the 4S but it hasn't exactly fundamentally changed my life like the ads might suggest.

  12. Gadget Rage is BAD

    @Barry Shitpeas

    You'd have to go some way to give Jobs a huge/small or any other size of anything.

  13. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    What I want to know is ..

    .. just how much of what you use Siri for gets added to your profile with Apple? I have enough trouble keeping numpties with mobiles out of secured rooms, I dread to think just how much more data they are now supplying to Apple. Must check if there's a way to kill off Siri (already done it for iCloud)..

    I'm astonished as to which length phone makers are prepared to go to grab data. Google announced in Canada that the reason they no longer needed WiFi snooping with Streetview was that the Android handsets were now doing it, and forces people to hook unto a Google account for anything interesting in Android to work. Apple is now goading people into using iMessage ("gimme your SMS traffic" - on a global scale) and Siri ("tell me what you're doing, with your voice print, thanks") on top of grabbing customer details via iCloud.

    And our poor, trusty users walk right into this, whilst loudly whinging about Facebook privacy.

    Amazing. Truly amazing.

    Anyone any idea what Microsoft/Nokia are planning on this front? The NSA needs all the help it can get..

  14. Miek

    "They eventually found that the body of such requests is little more than a binary plist whose contents can be deciphered using the Mac OS X plutil tool."

    I expect that this will change with the release of these set of tools. Apple are unlikely to tolerate this and will insert a more robust method of identifying a genuine handset.

    Fail icon because this evolutionary arms race is not over yet.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Natural Language Processing

    People dismissing Siri don't really understand what an immense computing problem NLP is. Scientists have spent decades trying to come up with a system where humans can converse with a computer in the same way that they would another person. And they've mostly failed.

    The fact that Siri is the best consumer-grade speech recognition technology around, and it still falls over, it still can't get things right a lot of the time and it still misinterprets things is evidence that this still has a very long way to go.

    It may be easier to put a man on Mars than it is to develop a 100% perfect speech recognition system.

  16. g e

    Unique ID?

    Which doubtless is tied to your iShop account and every single other thing you do.

    All silo'd within Apple for certain.

    And how transparent is this process made to the end user? How clearly and unambiguously is this behaviour outlined to them so that they may make an informed choice on opt-out?

    Oh. Optout probably renders your jesus-thing useless for most of its 'popular' functionality.

  17. stu_ekins

    Wildfire, anybody?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A matter of time until AppleID's are spoofed - then comes siridroid, icloudroid..

    Once enough people are interested, it's only a matter of time until somebody(or some group) manages to spoof AppleID's.

    Then there will be a lot of people playing with Siri on their el-chepo Android handsets.

    And even the much vaunted icloud may be up for grabs - even though it's kind of redundant on WP or Android devices, what it does is nothing new. But it may be nice for those people who have ipads and android handsets to have the ability to sync stuff through it.

  19. JDX Gold badge

    re:Is Siri that good?

    Yes and no. It's hugely impressive compared to what you might be expecting from past voice-recognition systems. But it's still just a gimmick in the real world.

  20. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    "work from virtually any device"?

    Indeed, I hope to have it running on my penknife soon.

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