If Siri is Hacked in a French Forest, Does Anybody Care?

Two weeks ago, Paris-based research firm, Applidium — part of the esteemed FaberNovel group — surprised everybody by announcing that they had hacked Siri, the iPhone 4S’s voice-recognition personal assistant.  On November 14, they posted a lengthy blog post, in French and English, detailing (and I mean detailing) the efforts that went behind the reverse engineering hack. The announced:

 “As soon as we could put our hands on the new iPhone 4S, we decided to have a sneak peek at how it really works. Today, we managed to crack open Siri’s protocol. As a result, we are able to use Siri’s recognition engine from any device. Yes, that means anyone could now write an Android app that uses the real Siri! Or use Siri on an iPad!”  (source)

Additionally, they provided documentation as well as step-by-step directions for any ambitious developer who wanted to build on what they’d done.

Forbes picked up on the story, and they agreed on the significance what Applidium had done.

The news spread across the developer and Android communities.  Hackers worldwide went to work.  Some notable applications include the integration of Siri with a home thermostat, turning Siri into a smart remote control, and using Siri to start and lock a car.

CNET reported that Applidium had more tricks up their sleeve.  “Applidium is working on its crack tools for adding Siri to other devices… Staying tuned to the Applidium blog will likely be the best way to see when these tools are available.”

How strange to go radio silent for 3 days right after you announce a huge hack...

But then the Applidium blog went silent.  For at least several days, Applidium’s website has been scrubbed clean of any reference to the Siri hack.  A link from a November 14 tweet is redirected to a generic company news page, where the most recent story is from March 3, 2011.

When we reached out to FaberNovel’s founder and CEO, Stéphane Distinguin, he declined to comment.

It also seems relevant to point out that neither TechCruch France or FrenchWeb covered the story at all.  The most notable mention we could find in France was on the blog, Korben.

Our Conspiracy Theory…

So what gives?  This is a pretty cool achievement for a prominent French firm.  Why are they backing off?  Why doesn’t the French press seem to care?

Our guess is that Apple came down hard on FaberNovel.  And that after the guys at Applidium got an earful from their bosses.  And finally, their friends in the French media were asked not to push the story any further.  But no matter what, the silence is a shame.

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Author:Robert Kelley

MBA student at HEC Paris for 2011. Ex-NYC and management consultant. Interested in tech, music, baseball, and learning French.

2 Comments on “If Siri is Hacked in a French Forest, Does Anybody Care?”

  1. December 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Is it illegal to hack without the purpose to harm?
    This is one of the ways manufacturers discovers the problems in their applications

  2. December 2, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    Apple Terms Of Services (http://www.apple.com/legal/mobileme/en/terms.html):
    “Apple grants you a personal, non-exclusive, non-transferable, limited license to use the Software as provided to you by Apple as a part of the Service and in accordance with these TOS; provided that you do not (and do not permit anyone else to) copy, modify, create a derivative work of, *reverse engineer*, decompile, or otherwise attempt to discover the source code (unless expressly permitted or required by law), sell, lease, sublicense, assign, *grant a security interest in or otherwise transfer any right in the Software*.”

    I may be misinterpreting these terms, but it seems to me that Applidium has gone way too far away from the legal terms.
    Conspiracy? Maybe.
    Apple writing to the people to remind them their legal rights before suing them? Most likely.
    The media shutting the fuck up? Probably they do not want to show support for something illegal.

    I love the potential technical implications of Applidium’s hack, but they are not legal.

    Instead of an article about a potential conspiracy, we should be discussing the real matter here which is, as I showed with the quote, that Apple does not allow you to do what you want with the hardware and software you pay for.

    Welcome to a world where when you buy something you’re not allowed by the law to use it as you wish.
    Welcome to a very rude world!

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