Even if you’re strictly an iOS user, you’ve probably heard of Android’s “Ok Google” command, which automatically brings up the Google Now voice control interface from the home screen. iOS doesn’t really have an equivalent feature. In order to bring up Siri, you have to hold the home button down for a few seconds.
Today a new jailbreak tweak called OkSiri was released that enables the same functionality on iOS devices. It works just like you see in the video above, though there are a few little annoyances. Keep reading for a full breakdown on the upsides and downsides to this tweak.
Usage and features
When you first install the tweak, it isn’t enabled. You’ll need to dive into your Activator settings and set a gesture to the “OkSiri” action (it’s set to a short hold on the home button by default). This action doesn’t activate Siri, it just enables listening mode.
Once listening mode is turned on, you shouldn’t need that Activator gesture very often (more on when you’ll need it in a bit). A small microphone icon will appear in the status bar to let you know that the phone is listening. Now you can just say “OK Siri,” and following a brief pause you’ll see the assistant pop into view. After you dismiss Siri, there will be a small delay before the phone starts listening again.
The tweak even keeps listening when the screen is locked, meaning you don’t have to pick it up and turn the screen on before calling Siri into action.
One very useful feature of this tweak is the option to set your own custom phrase to invoke Siri. I’ve changed my from “OK Siri” to a quicker “Hey Siri.” Unfortunately, the change to this phrase doesn’t take effect until you deactivate and then reactivate the tweak through that Activator shortcut mentioned earlier. Of course, as long as you don’t change the phrase often, it’s not that big of a drawback.
You’ll recall that the iPhone sends all Siri- and Dictation-related voice commands to Apple’s server for processing rather than doing everything on the phone. So it stands to reason that one could be concerned about how much data OkSiri is using. As it turns out, there’s nothing to worry about. OkSiri comes with a built-in speech recognition library that doesn’t require an internet connection, so your phone isn’t constantly streaming data back to Apple. In fact, nothing your phone hears even leaves the device.
Drawbacks and bugs
I have noticed a few quirky little issues with the tweak. It occasionally stops listening for a few minutes and then starts up again. I haven’t picked up on any specific pattern that leads to this behavior, but it hasn’t been too much of an issue. Unfortunately the speech recognition doesn’t seem to be quite on-par with Apple’s, so I’ve had to repeat myself a few times before the tweak heard me (mostly when the screen was locked for some reason).
The last issue I noticed was related to my phone’s volume buttons. They somehow got stuck controlling a volume level that was neither the media playback nor the ringer. At first I thought it was trying to adjust the separate Siri volume, but when I pulled up the assistant that volume level had not changed either. This happened every time I performed a respring, but could be fixed by toggling the “adjust with buttons” switch in the iPhone’s sound settings. I’ve informed the developer of this problem, so hopefully an update will be released soon to fix it.
In terms of power efficiency, I haven’t been using the tweak long enough to notice any possible drains.
Price and availability
All-in-all, OkSiri works really well, aside from that (rather big) issue with the volume controls. I would like to see a way to dismiss Siri vocally added at some point, but even without it the tweak is very useful. If you want to take it for a spin, you can download it from the BigBoss Cydia repo absolutely free. However, I hesitate to fully recommend it for full-time use until the volume issue is resolved.
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