Whilst Siri, the voice-activated assistant on Apple’s iPhone 4S handset, has been ported to non-supported iOS devices in the past, Apple hacker Grant ‘Chpwn’ Paul has delivered what appears to be the most impressive implementation of Apple’s technology yet — and it’s completely legal.
Paul, with the help of Ryan Petrich and members of the jailbreak scene, today released Spire — a new tool that allows users to install Siri on “previously unsupported, but jailbroken, devices”.
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The iOS hacker uses a clever trick to ensure his Siri implementation remains legal and does not modify Apple’s files, by downloading a small file to an iOS-powered device that downloads the necessary Siri files directly from Apple. To download Spire, and connect to Apple’s servers to obtain the files, users simply need a Jailbroken iOS 5 device on which they then install the Spire binary that is hosted on Cydia.
Be warned though, if you don’t have much space available on your iOS 5 device, it is a 100MB download and will require a Wi-Fi connection. And before you get too excited about running Siri on your iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, 1st-generation iPad or iPod Touch, Spire is “not a complete solution” and requires users to use their own proxy server address.
Apple still requires authorization to use Siri, so information from an iPhone 4S is still required. To insert this information, Spire allows you to enter your own proxy server address. I’ve put up a list of my ideas on how you might get access to a proxy; hopefully you can figure something out.
Spire uses a new method to obtain the files necessary for Siri, so it doesn’t have the copyright issues encountered by previous attempts. Similarly, rather than directing all traffic through a specific proxy server (and the associated privacy issues), Spire allows you to specify your own proxy server.
There are a number of options available at this stage, though more will be added in due course. Because Siri requires proxy data from an iPhone 4S in order to work and Apple has made it notoriously difficult to defeat its authorisation:
- westbaer’s SiriProxy fork
- Own an iPhone 4S too: Maybe you already own an iPhone 4S, and just want Siri on another device of yours. This is simple; you can just use the above proxy yourself.
- Find a friend: Maybe your friend has an iPhone 4S and will let you use their authentication tokens (maybe in exchange for some cool SiriProxy plugins). Then, you can share the authentication. Or, maybe you gave your relative your old iPhone when you got your iPhone 4S: now you can share your token and give them Siri.
- Pay up: It’s very likely that soon we will see for-pay services online to rent you some space on a Siri proxy, attached to one of their iPhone 4S devices. I haven’t seen anything like this yet, but I’ll keep my eye out, and I would encourage anyone who is interested to set something like this up.
- And now for something completely different: As I suggested earlier, you might be able to replace Siri entirely. A simple method might be to use Google Chrome’s speech “API” hooked up to some code to decode the Siri requests and parse Google’s result. Or, someone could hook it up to some logic backends like many of the clones available on Android: the possibilities are endless.
Unfortunately, for those wanting to install Spire, they are going to need an iPhone 4S to do so — at least initially.
However, the beauty of Chpwn’s implementation is that it evades any copyright issues and it is completely open for other iOS hackers and developers to connect and develop their own processes to make it easier for users to get Siri on their Jailbroken iOS 5 devices.
With Spire now available to download, you can expect the development community to look into new ways of authorising Siri on devices, finally bringing Siri to non-supported Apple gadgets with the minimum of fuss.