Apple’s App Store approval process is a mysterious thing. Sometimes the Cupertino overlords can be incredibly stringent about the guidelines an app has to adhere to in order to be approved for sale onthe App Store, and other times we’re all left scratching our heads wondering how on earth an app like this made it through.
Siri knockoffs are nothing new, of course. In fact, they’ve been a pretty common occurrence in the iOS App Store ever since Apple unveiled the digital assistant alongside the iPhone 4S last October. We’ve seen apps like Evi that piggyback off Siri’s success, but a relatively new app has seen incredible success by riding Siri’s coattails all the way to the top of the App Store charts.
The best part? Not only does it look heavily — ahem — inspired by Siri, even the developer doesn’t know how it got approved.
Nathalie Daumas is the developer of Voice Assistant, a Siri-like iPhone and iPad application that currently sits as the fourth most popular paid app in the App Store. It’s available right now for only $0.99. Here’s the official description:
Voice Assistant is an easy-to-use voice recognition application that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages. In fact, it’s up to five (5) times faster than typing on the keyboard.
With Voice Assistant you can also dictate status updates directly to your Social Networking applications (Facebook and Twitter)….all using your voice. So when you’re on-the-go, stop typing and start speaking – from short text messages to longer email messages, and anything in between.
As you can tell, the app borrows heavily from Apple’s penchant for linen backgrounds and metallic buttons. It’s a pretty simple interface, and the bottom icon is a blatant ripoff of Siri all the way down to the purplish accents. Voice Assistant supports 22 languages and a native iPad interface. It clearly fills the gap that Siri has left open by only supporting the iPhone 4S in a handful of languages by giving similar functionality to older devices and, of course, the iPad.
“I am myself very surprised by the success of my app that started as a small hobby and has now enjoyed unexpected success all over the world,” Daumas said to Cult of Mac. “People who have older iPhone models want the same functions Siri has, such as dictation, and my app is very unique compared to its competitors in the market.”
Indeed, Voice Assistant is like Siri on steroids. People clearly want something like Siri on their devices, as the app sits near the top of the paid chart in multiple App Stores internationally.
The app can interface with your favorite apps, like Evernote or Pages, to send out text you dictate. Transcriptions can also be sent out by email, iMessage, Twitter, and Facebook. Due to the way Apple imposes sandboxing with App Store apps, the experience isn’t as integrated as Siri. Unlike Siri, you can edit text and create a list of suggested words based on how you use the app. Users report that it’s also pretty snappy at picking up your voice.
“I get roughly 400 emails a day from customers telling me how wonderful the product is and some of them are giving me enhancement requests that I strive to include in the updates. I am thrilled to see the customers responses to my app and it really keeps me developing more features,” said Daumas.
While it’s great that something like Voice Assistant exists, how on earth did it make it past the App Store review team in the first place? Even Daumas doesn’t know!
She told Cult of Mac, “I guess it’s a miracle that Apple didn’t reject it in the first place as I have heard of other similar apps getting rejected.” Daumas did tell us that she had to work with Apple to make the app less like Siri before it got approved, but frankly, it seems like there’s enough borrowed “inspiration” there to still warrant concern on Apple’s part.
Does Daumas think her app will eventually get pulled? “As all the success has been quite unexpected, I am now hoping that the app won’t be taken taken down any time soon…”