Siri hacked to work with Spotify, Instagram and other third-party apps

Summary:Siri on iOS 7 being used to control home automation devices like the Phillips Hue, and third-party apps like Spotify and Venmo. Installation can be done on any phone within a minute, without jailbreaking.

PennApps Spring 2014 hackathon, the largest university hackathon, produced an exciting Siri hack called GoogolPlex which allows iPhone users to control third-party applications with Siri without jailbreaking. It's the first (and only) Siri hack for iOS 7 that is available right now.

Ajay Patel, Alex Sands, Ben Hsu, and Gagan Gupta, four freshmen in the M&T program at the University of Pennsylvania, developed GoogolPlex after being frustrated with the lack of features in Siri.

GoogolPlex is a hack on Siri (iOS 7 compatible) that allows Siri to integrate with third-party apps and hardware with custom commands like “turn on the lights.” Setup takes a minute and no jailbreaking is required. GoogolPlex already allows you to play songs in Spotify, pay friends through Venmo, Instagram selfies, and control Philips Hue lights with simple voice commands, all through Siri.

Here's the video of the team demoing GoogolPlex:

Some use cases for GoogolPlex include controlling Hue lightbulbs, Spotify, Instagram and Venmo, and the students promise that other third-party apps will be able to integrate with GoogolPlex and allow for their functionality to be accessed through Siri "in the future."

GoogolPlex takes about 20 seconds to set up and involves adding a HTTP Proxy to the iPhone's WiFi settings (http://totally.betterthansiri.com). Here's a video of the setup process:

According to the students the hack uses a Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) exploit to direct Siri requests to a proxy server that spoofs the DNS of Siri's servers so that the student's server receives the request. It then takes the query string from the user and uses natural language processing to understand the command and perform custom actions based upon the request.

Apple has taken a strong stance against such hacks in the past, notably shutting down a similar hack called SiriProxy in July 2012. It remains to be seen how Apple will react to the students innovative hack. Let's hope that Apple realizes that people want to do more than set timers with Siri and expand its functionality and not just shut down the loophole. 

Perhaps Apple needs to hire these guys?

GoogolPlex took third place overall out of over 220 projects and you can try it by going to http://betterthansiri.com from Safari on your iPhone, but you better try it out soon.

Topics: Apple, iOS, iPhone

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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