A team of University of Pennsylvania freshmen have turned Siri into the useful companion she was always meant to be. Their creation, GoogolPlex, routes Siri commands through a proxy, allowing their system to add custom commands.
Ever want Siri to play a certain Spotify song on demand? Or control a Nest Thermostat? Or unlock your Tesla? GoogolPlex can do all of that.
Enabling GoogolPlex is a trivial task involving adding a proxy to an iPhone’s WIFI settings. The instructions are here and take about three minutes. Once added, a user needs to set up an account with GoogolPlex using Siri. Simply say “GoogolPlex, turn up the heat.” This will cause Siri to open Safari, throw a warning (select continue) and load the GoogolPlex login screen. Follow the prompts. That’s it. Siri is now useful.
GoogolPlex brings the promise of Siri to fruition. As Engadget points, it’s a bit hacky at the moment — it is after all a project born at a hackathon. The system allows Siri to perform nearly any function. Using the edit function on the GoogolPlex’s website, a user can add nearly any command. There’s even a so-called Featured Commands section where “apps” can be installed including adding the function of using Google Maps (Siri’s built-in voice navigation defaults to Apple Maps.) Once installed, an iPhone can give directions through Google Maps by saying “GoogolPlex, get directions to Walmart.”
The project isn’t ready for mainstream consumption yet. The team tells TechCrunch that the initial proof-of-concept was built at PennApps Spring 2014. It took 40 hours to complete at the hackathon, and then several weeks to build the platform.
It does require a bit of fine-tuning to work properly. Since commands are routed through Safari, the phone has to be unlocked during the process. But it shows Apple’s missed opportunity with Siri. By keeping it locked down, all these custom commands went unrealized. Had Apple built a platform where users can add tasks, Siri would be a killer feature instead of a killer joke.