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Siri hacked onto iPod touch, doesn't fully work

updated 10:30 pm EDT, Tue October 25, 2011

Can't communicate with Apple servers

Hackers, who have been busy trying to get the Siri system interface to work on non-iPhone 4S devices, have found some degree of success with almost all members of the current iOS family now that an enterprising pair have grafted Siri onto a current-generation iPod touch, reports Engadget. As with the other hacked versions, however, the trick is only partly successful -- the modified versions can't work with Apple's servers, leaving the program mostly "brainless."

Much confusion has arisen over the technology called Siri on the iPhone 4S and the former app, now defunct, called Siri Assistant, that was available for earlier versions of the iPhone. Apple bought out the company that produced the Siri app, so there is no real reason why the older app could not still be made available for earlier models, other than Apple wanting to avoid confusion. A specific answer has not been provided by either company, but testing indicates that Apple has made very substantial improvements over and above the original app (which ran on the iPhone 4 and 3GS), along with the possibility of a co-processor included in the iPhone 4S that allows for better voice recognition (which, if true, would explain why Siri has not been made available for the iPhone 4 or iPad 2, the latter of which runs on the same dual-core A5 chip as the iPhone 4S).

Tests with a modified Siri on the iPhone 4 (video below) and on an iPad 2 show that even without being able to connect to network servers, the program runs noticeably slower than it does on the iPhone 4S. Apple would likely have been concerned about the quality of the experience on non-4S devices if Siri had been included generally with iOS 5, but as has also been pointed out, Siri's remarkable voice fidelity (much improved from the app version) and flexibility make a powerful selling (or upgrading) argument for the newer model. On the hacked versions, Siri is unable to do much more than offer to do a web search when users select one of the pre-set questions from a written list.

Critics have claimed that keeping Siri exclusive to the iPhone 4S (along with disabling its network connections and the old app version from Apple's network servers) is a strong-arming tactic by the company to lure customers into upgrading. Defenders have countered that with no new iPad coming this season, Siri integration would have been an extremely powerful incentive to ramp up demand for the now seven-month-old iPad 2, expected to be a major seller in the holiday buying period. Apple's decision not to include Siri even on a device that has the processor horsepower to run it proves that the iPhone 4S has additional hardware or other technology needed to run the enhanced Siri at expected quality levels, defenders say.

Getting the interface (at least) to work on the iPhone 4 and now the iPod touch may bode well for the possibility of Siri migrating to future devices once it emerges from beta, however. Fans may hold out hope that a legal way is found to make Siri at least run on the iPhone 4 even at a reduced speed, and it now seems likely that a future iPod touch would also incorporate the technology, though the window for such a product to emerge in time for holiday buying is rapidly closing. [via Engadget]

by MacNN Staff



  1. bibleguy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Siri lite?

    Why not leave the old app as "Siri lite" with the functionality of the old app as it was (no voice back, no true iOS integration just search, etc.). I played with the Siri app after the iPhone 4S keynote (I had installed it months ago), and it was the primary reason for upgrading from my iPhone 4 & for my brother-in-law upgrading from his BB torch. At startup, it could say that it is a lite version, and that for the complete Siri experience upgrade to the full version with an upgrade to the iPhone 4S.

  1. Salty

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That wouldn't be very Apple

    Apple is generally about uncompromising things. It's different with programs like Logic and Logic Express or even the AirPort Extreme and Express versions. There you have unique feature sets for different types of users. With Siri there's no reason to hobble the experience for lesser devices. Apple is providing the best that the iPhone 4 can do with iOS 5, and they're doing the same for the 4S. Apple isn't about allowing a poor user experience if they can avoid it.

  1. chas_m



    Salty has it right

    Also, Apple would have ZERO interest in supporting the original app, particularly as it would be seen not just as a "lighter" version of Siri but a "lesser" version as well, which will dilute the "brand" of Siri.

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Ramping Up

    Siri is in many ways "Beta" software. The servers required for giving it its brains may not be able to handle the strain of a sudden rush of users. True, there are over 6 million iPhone 4S users out there, but there are an estimated 22 million iPad 2 out there.

    By limiting Siri to iPhone 4S for now, you'll see a slow ramp up of users for Siri. By the time March roles around, Apple may put out a new update of iOS which will allow iPad2 users to have access to Siri.

    Then again, the iPad may never get Siri. People use iPhones when they are on the run. Being able to push a button, and use your voice to set an appointment is very handy when you're moving around.

    People use iPads when they have the time to look at the screen. Setting an appointment by clicking on the calendar and typing it in is no more difficult when you're sitting down than asking Siri to set it for you.

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