People are still extremely interested in getting Siri onto pre-iPhone 4S devices, and a new hack has been released to do so, but it remains extremely complex, and of questionable legality.
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iOS hacker chpwn (Grant Paul) has released (along with the help of Ryan Petrich) a new tool, dubbed Spire. Naturally, only jailbroken iDevices need apply; Spire is already available in Cydia.
To get the Siri files, instead of dragging them off an iPhone 4S, Spire downloads them directly from Apple. chpwn says this makes it legal, “Spire uses a new method to obtain the files necessary for Siri, so it doesn’t have the copyright issues encountered by previous attempts.”
While we’re not lawyers, we know a lawyer or two and have reached out to them for advice on this. Common sense (which admittedly, isn’t necessarily correct) would point to a “huh?” when asked about the legality of downloading software directly from Apple.
For one, this isn’t open source software. This is copyrighted software, and just because you CAN download it doesn’t mean doing so is legal. It might be legal for the developers, who are just “providing the tool,” but it certainly wouldn’t seem to be legal for the actual end user, who is doing the actual downloading of the files.
In addition, how long do you think it will take Apple to issue a) a cease and desist order, and b) lock the binaries behind a password.
As if we needed anything more than common sense to determine the legality of this, we asked a lawyer friend. Our lawyer friend said “He [the developer] is wrong. If he has no permission to download the binaries that is where Apple will nail him. The other issue is that Apple’s design has been messed with, which is their right to keep intact.” This if from a California lawyer, too, which is where Apple’s HQ is.
In addition, as we noted earlier, Apple’s servers need authentication when connecting to Siri; they need to see an iPhone 4S’ authentication token, in fact. They also need re-authentication every 24 hours. In order for this solution (Spire) to work, you need to set up a proxy server, and an iPhone 4S’ authentication token.
You can imagine that if Apple’s servers see the same token being used hundreds of times more often than it should be, they’d shut down access for that token. So we’re not sure how viable the solution suggestion by the author would be: “It’s very likely that soon we will see for-pay services online to rent you some space on a Siri proxy, attached to one of their iPhone 4S devices.”
If you have to “rent” a token like that, in the long run, wouldn’t it be simpler to just buy an iPhone 4S, and perhaps even cheaper? There’s also the possibility of a cease-and-desist order from Apple.
At any rate, all these solutions run up against legal issues. It’s hard to imagine any of the ways to get the Siri binaries onto an iPhone 4 being legal. Of course, as some comments on the Internet say, “Who honestly cares about that sort of thing? The people just want the stuff and can care less as to the legality of it all.”