Siri Clones and Fake Apps Appearing on the Android Market
Although there are numerous Siri clones on the Android Market, one particular fake "Official" app is asking for unusual permissions.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Many trademark, patent and IP holders may disagree, but even Nintendo is reportedly taking cues from Apple's trend-setting App Store design and creating its own version for the Wii U. Smartphones in general seemingly borrow from iOS whereas PC and gadget manufacturers are scrambling to perfect and produce a tablet to rival Apple's own iPad line.
Even more, Apple's current Big Thing, Siri, produced imitations as soon as the company launched its new iPhone 4S back in October. Several have actually been rather fun to use, but The Next Web is currently pointing to one specific "clone" that purposely tricks users into thinking it's a real product. Called "Siri for Android," it's published by developer Official App and on the surface looks legit, yet instead only serves as a shortcut to Google's own built-in Voice Actions.
"You've got to understand what your Android already has and have a sense of humor to understand what this is. Its obviously a sarcastic parody," writes one user on the Android Market. And while the app may indeed be a sarcastic parody -- the app description actually claims it's a Siri icon that opens "Google’s Voice Actions" app -- the cause for concern stems from the app's actual permissions: access to your location, full internet access, access to your personal information, and the ability to modify/delete USB storage and SD card contents.
For experienced users, this "official" Siri app for Android is clearly bogus. But for inexperienced users such as teens who received an Android device for Christmas, they may not know the difference. Unfortunately, Google is nowhere near as strict as Apple, and seemingly lets anything post to the Android Market unchecked within minutes. That said, it's unknown at this point if the developer has side-loaded malware into the fake Siri app, using Apple's popular brand name to ensure thousands of installs.
Presently the Android Market plays host to numerous apps that mimic and mock Apple's Siri. Skyvi is currently the most popular, landing a 4.5 out of 5 via 19,205 votes. Vlingo Virtual Assistant sits in the second position, followed by one of our favorites Iris, Andy, and Speaktoit Assistant. Fake Siri for Android comes in a variety of languages, and there's also Alice and Pocket Blonde 2. There's even an app called Siri Says Silly Stuff that has nothing to do with voice recognition software whatsoever.
As always, Android device owners should keep an eye on permissions required by apps, especially those that really have no business sorting through your contacts, reading your text messages or trolling through the SD card. Also reading user feedback is a good way to determine if an app is a real tool, or a possible tool for hackers.