Remember when we told you about Evi, a Siri clone in the App Store? While the iPhone app mimicked much of the features found in Apple’s digital assistant, there seemed to be enough differences to keep it safe from the watchdogs in Cupertino. For instance, you can ask “Where’s a good place to eat Mexican?” and Evi will use Yelp’s API to provide you results in-app.
According to new reports, Apple has threatened to yank Evi from the App Store. The app has been downloaded over 200,000 times and costs $0.99 in the App Store.
The Evi developers, True Knowledge, use Nuance to power the app’s voice recognition service. Siri also uses Nuance to process voice requests, but Apple doesn’t use the True Knowledge’s search voodoo to provide results. There are distinct differences between the two services, and Apple has approved several updates to Evi since Siri launched with the iPhone 4S. That hasn’t stopped Apple from deciding that Evi resembles its own offering a little too closely.
On Friday evening True Knowledge had a call from Apple representative Richard Chipman. (If you Google Richard Chipman’s name you’ll find he is also the Apple rep that does the controversial calls about apps).
He told True Knowledge that Apple was “going to pull Evi from the appstore” as it was similar to Siri.
The rule being cited is number 8.3 in the App stro T&Cs” “Apps which appear confusingly similar to an existing Apple product or advertising theme will be rejected”.
While it seems like such a message would be the end of the road for Evi, The Verge is now saying that Apple is instead working with True Knowledge to make Evi less Siri-like:
Despite what True Knowledge told TechCrunch, the app remains in the App Store, and according to sources familiar with the matter, Apple is attempting to work with the developers on bumping out those similarities, rather than just pulling the product. It’s apparently standard practice these days for Apple to flag something that could be confusing to end users and then try to work with developers to alter the appearance and / or functionality of the app, and we’re told that’s taking place with True Knowledge right now.
Apple held a very stringent approach to apps that duplicated the iPhone’s stock app functionality in the early days of the App Store. It look a long time before third-party email clients were allowed, and Apple’s grip has been loosening ever since. Considering that Siri is the staple feature of the latest iPhone, it makes sense Apple would be hesitant to let other apps share the limelight so soon.
We’ll be waiting to see how the Evi/Siri showdown turns out. Place your bets!