Siri cracked, Android port a possibility

Siri, the former app for iOS devices which Apple has turned into a unique selling point for its flagship iPhone 4S smartphone, has been fully cracked - to the point where it could, theoretically, be used on Android-powered devices.

Siri, a voice recognition system, was trumpeted by Apple as the key selling point of its upgraded iPhone 4S smartphone - a point it dearly needed, as the iPhone 4-like appearance of the device gave users little reason to splash out on an upgrade.

It wasn't always an iPhone 4S exclusive: in the months leading up to the launch of the handset, Siri Assistant - as it was then known - was available as a standalone app for all iOS devices. When the phone launched, however, Apple pulled the app - developed by a third-party company, Siri, acquired by Apple in 2010 - to the dismay of those who had previously used it on other devices.

Work started to restore Siri to older handsets and succeeded quickly, but was sadly hampered by Apple's security mechanisms which prevent any non-4S iPhone from accessing the servers to carry out the speech recognition.

Engineers at Applidium claim to have not only worked out a way to get around this restriction, but have come up with a total crack on the Siri server protocol itself - allowing, potentially, Siri-compatible apps to be created on other devices while using Apple's servers to do the hard work.

Reverse-engineering the Siri protocol, the team was able to send a voice recording to the Siri servers and receive a response back - all without using an iPhone.

It isn't likely that we'll be seeing any Android Siri implementations soon, however: the key portion of Apple's security system hinges on Siri providing a valid unique identifier matched to an iPhone 4S. Without that unique identifier, the servers won't respond.

It's possible to have more than one device reporting the same 'unique' identifier, of course - but as soon as Apple suspects a UID of being compromised in this way it's likely to block its access to the server altogether.

The full details of the crack are available over on Applidium's blog.