Dec 16, 2011

Apple reportedly has no plans to add its Siri voice assistant to older phones, prompting hackers and other tech-savvy Siri fans to focus on workarounds. But did a recent iOS update provide a way to legally add Siri to an iPhone 4?

As reported by Cult of Mac, a hacker known as MuscleNerd tweeted this week that a revised version of iOS 5.0.1 included a "wide open main fs." Translation: Siri-related system files that were previously encrypted are now accessible.

"It's the first public 4S ipsw where the main filesystem keys are obtainable (due to non-encrypted ramdisks)," MuscleNerd tweeted later. "To clarify: wide open for inspection from a Mac/PC...not wide open security wise :) Can get Siri files and such without piracy."

As Cult of Mac noted, there are no shortage of Siri-iPhone 4 solutions, but most are illegal or complicated.

"To run Siri properly, one would need access to an iPhone 4S unique identifier and that key would need to be switched out every 24 hours to avoid detection," the blog wrote. "If thousands of devices start calling on Siri from one 4S identifier, Apple will be able to easily spot the activity and kill the port."

Was it intentional or a slip on the part of Apple? Will the file be re-encrypted with iOS 5.1? The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but last month, Apple reportedly put the smackdown on those hoping for Siri on the iPhone 4.

A blog post from iOS developer Michael Steeber cited a bug report thread from another person who contacted Apple and received the following response: "Siri only works on iPhone 4S and we currently have no plans to support older devices."

Siri takes advantage of the dual-core processor and graphics chips in the iPhone 4S, something not available in older, single-core iPhones. Siri must chat back and forth with a server in order to provide users with answers to their questions or to follow various commands. As several memes have suggested, Siri hasn't figured out how to respond to every inquiry yet, but the product is technically still in beta and Apple has said it will improve over time.

Earlier this month, an Australian developer hacked Siri to control his home and now wants to bring the system to the rest of the world.
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