Apple’s Siri is handy for checking weather and making appointments with voice commands, but what if she were smart enough to turn the lights on or unlock your car? That’s what the folks behind GoogolPlex had in mind, as they’ve developed a unique Siri hack that makes the voice assistant compatible with third-party apps and connected home devices.
Devised by a group of University of Pennsylvania freshmen called The Four Loop, GoogolPlex cleverly “spoofs” both Siri and Google into working with other apps on your iPhone. When you open Siri on your iPhone and speak “Googolplex, open Spotify,” Siri hears “Google: Plex open Spotify.” Your request then bounces from Google to GoogolPlex’s own server, which will provide the appropriate response to your voice command.
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Siri, Apple's voice-activated assistant, can assume awesome powers when hacked.
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GoogolPlex answers your commands in one of two ways, depending on your request. Conversational requests, like “tell me a joke,” will simply show up as HTML on your phone’s web browser. However, app-based commands such as “GoogolPlex, post a picture to Instagram,” use a redirect scheme to open the appropriate software.
It might sound a bit technical, but using GoogolPlex is fairly straightforward — and you can try it today without jailbreaking your phone or downloading anything. After signing up on BetterThanSiri.com, you’ll simply open your iPhone’s WiFi settings and change your HTTP Proxy settings to Auto with “http://totally.betterthansiri.com” in the URL box.
The Four Loop mentions that third-party app integration won’t work until GoogolPlex hits the App Store, but you can try a few demo commands such as “GoogolPlex, tell me a programming joke.” The Four Loop has ambitious plans for its Siri hack, as the GoogolPlex concept video shows a user interacting with Nest home electronics, opening specific Spotify songs and unlocking a car door all with voice commands.
Apple will likely beef up Siri for iOS 8, but it looks like GoogolPlex beat it to the punch.
— Michael Andronico, LAPTOP
First published April 17 2014, 4:24 PM