Apple Not Happy With ‘Evi’ Siri Clone, Threatens To Pull It From The App Store

Apple Not Happy With ‘Evi’ Siri Clone, Threatens To Pull It From The App Store

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.

TechCrunch reports:

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!

  • Davidhutchinson1989

    If Apple updated Siri so that all of the existing features such as Directions actually worked in the UK, we wouldn’t need to buy Evi.

  • Brendan Szczur

    I see.

  • CharliK

    Interesting that this warning is so very unlike Apple (they typically pull and explain only when demanded by the developer). And the source is the developer dropping the name of a representative that has been mentioned many times before in such dealings. 

    Of course why on Earth would a developer fake such a warning. It isn’t like app sales tend to rocket up when such things leak out. 

  • Sean Bauer

    Evi is getting pretty bad reviews on the App store.

  • Jeff Smith

    Evi just blind siri copy cat:/ obviously Apple has the policy of not allowing duplicates, to give an ex: ‘mybantu’ doing excellent job in iOs and  Android market with its own technology. Major thing what is important is – originality and simplicity.

  • John Denison

    Being an owner of a 3Gs Siri isn’t an option for me. Evi and Siri are different, Siri being an integrated part of the OS can make entries into Reminder, iCal and alike, Evi can’t. Evi on the other hand is better able to cope with local (i.e. weird) British English accents. Different horses for different courses. 

  • Richard Smith

    Way to go Apple. Approve the app and let hundreds of thousands of people download it so you can profit even more! Then pull it because it violated your policy for being too like Siri. Remind me who approved this app again!!! I think apple should give iTunes credit back to every person who pays for an app from App Store that they remove. There has to be some kind of illegal practice going on here. They did the same to the thousands of us who paid for Print to PDF. They pulled when iOS 5 was launched, stating it didn’t allow the app to use AirPrint function. Even though Apple approved it 3 times. In attorneys out there???? 

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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