Owners of Apple’s iPhone 4 who have a hankering to use the company’s much-publicized voice-recognition personal assistant Siri can now do so thanks to a download designed by a hacker known as “chpwn,” who posted the details of the program on his blog. The tool, Spire, will download Siri itself (directly from Apple) while it installs.
However, Spire is not a complete solution. 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. “Spire uses a new method to obtain the files necessary for Siri, so it doesn’t have the copyright issues encountered by previous attempts,” the blog post explains. “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.”
Siri’s voice recognition software also received notice in October when Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, discovered even if the iPhone 4S is locked down, an unauthorized user can apparently still activate Siri with a single button push and then ask the program to send emails or carry out other tasks. “I borrowed a passcode-locked iPhone 4S from a colleague here at Sophos and, with his permission, was able to write an email, and sent a text message,” Cluley wrote in an Oct. 19 blog posting. “If I had wanted to I could have meddled with his calendar appointments too.”
Cluley added that the issue has a relatively easy fix: Access your iPhone 4S settings, head to “Passcode Lock,” and make sure Siri is set to “Off.” That way “Siri cannot be used when the smartphone is locked with a passcode.” Apple sold more than 4 million of its iPhone 4S just three days after its launch on Oct. 14. In addition, more than 25 million customers were using iOS 5, the handset’s mobile operating system, in the first five days of its release, and more than 20 million customers signed up for iCloud, a set of free cloud services that automatically and wirelessly store content in iCloud and push it to all a user’s devices.
In an effort to challenge Apple and Siri, Google is reportedly developing a natural language processing enhancement to its Voice Actions application that is code-named “Majel.” The company has offered Google Voice Search on the iPhone and its Android devices since 2008, and that application has been expanded to cover 29 languages, supporting accents in 37 countries, including the Middle East.