How To Get Something Like Siri On Your Older iPhone Right Now, No Jailbreak Required

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Say hello to Voice Actions. She’ll say hello right back.

Voice Actions is a basic Siri alternative, available right now in the iOS App Store.

For those of you with iPhone 4S envy, it lets you control your older iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad with spoken commands (although you need iOS 3.0 to make it work).

I confess I was skeptical when I first heard about it. My expectations were low. But the app surpassed them, and even made me laugh out loud.

It’s not perfect, but hey, not many things are. Unlike Siri, there’s no scrollable view of recent actions and requests. In fact there’s very little visual polish at all. Not all the functions seem to work that well – I couldn’t get image searching to show me any pictures of kittens. The app understood what I’d asked for, but got stuck when trying to find it for me.

But the speech recognition was better than I expected. Voice Actions understood almost everything I said, and behaved pretty much as I expected it to.

It was able to open new SMS messages and emails to the right contacts, but wasn’t able to transcribe the message contents.

It could tell me the time in foreign cities, forecast the weather, define and spell words, and source simple facts from the internet.

And guess what – Voice Actions has a sense of humor too; just like Siri. Ask her “Do you love me?” and she replies: “I love everyone, especially you.”

Ask her: “What are you wearing?” and she replies: “A white robe.”

Ask her to open the pod bay doors, and of course, she replies with “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t do that.”

Voice Actions is $4.99 right now (£2.99 in the UK) and I think it’s worth a try. Don’t expect miracles. Don’t expect Siri. But if all you want is to set reminders and do other basic tasks with your voice, shelling out for this app is a whole lot cheaper than buying a brand new iPhone 4S.

[xrr rating=80%]