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]