Hack Brings Siri Voice Control to Older iPhone 4, Sort Of

If you're wondering why you would ever want to jailbreak your iPhone, how about this: one hacker claims to have a rudimentary version of the Siri voice-enabled personal assistant running on an iPhone 4. Ireland-based hacker Steve Troughton-Smith, who uncovered the iPhone's Internet tethering capabilities in 2009, recently posted a screenshot of what he said was Siri running on his iPhone 4.

Photo Credit: Steve Troughton-Smith
Apple so far has made Siri integration an exclusive feature for the iPhone 4S and said it would shut down the Siri iOS app on Saturday, October 15. Apple purchased the company behind the Siri iOS app in 2010.

It's hard to tell from the screenshot if this is truly Siri running on the iPhone 4. Even more convincing, however, was a video Troughton-Smith posted to YouTube showing what is clearly a jailbroken iPhone 4 running the Siri interface. You can tell it's an iPhone 4 since the device has only two antenna separators at the bottom of the phone, while the iPhone 4S has two at the bottom and two at the top.

While Siri landing on the iPhone 4 sounds promising, there are a few snags with Siri's unofficial port to the iPhone 4. First of all, it's not clear from the video whether any of Siri's voice commands are working. 9-to-5 Mac, which says it is working with Troughton-Smith on the port, claims the iPhone 4 can recognize spoken commands and can speak back to the user.

But it's not clear what that means since Troughton-Smith's video, as well as one provided by 9-to-5 Mac, do not show Siri speaking or anyone trying to interact with Siri using voice commands. One video does show that if you tap the Siri microphone button, the iPhone 4 responds with a double beep as it does on the iPhone 4S.

The other problem is that a lot of Siri's voice processing actually happens on Apple's servers, and so far Troughton-Smith has not figured out how to fool Apple into thinking an iPhone 4 is an iPhone 4S. Without access to Apple's servers, Siri won't be able to do much for iPhone 4 users. And if Troughton-Smith, or someone else, is successful in porting Siri's complete functionality, there's also the question of whether Apple's lawyers will try and stop the software from being distributed to jailbroken iPhone 4 users.

Nevertheless, it's encouraging to see that Siri appears to be able to function on the iPhone 4 adding fuel to the latest iPhone debate: did Apple withhold Siri from the iPhone 4 for technical reasons or to encourage users to buy the latest and greatest iPhone?

It's worth keeping in mind that Apple added Siri to the iPhone 4S as a beta release, so who knows? Perhaps Apple has plans to put Siri on the iPhone 4 once it has had time to work out the kinks for the voice command software on the iPhone 4S.

Siri interface on the iPhone 4:

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) and Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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