updated 01:35 pm EST, Mon February 27, 2012
Title offers alternative for non-iPhone 4S owner
Apple is threatening to pull a Siri-like app called Evi from the App Store, according to the app's developer, True Knowledge. The latter company says that on Friday, Apple representative Richard Chipman called and explained that Apple was "going to pull Evi from the App Store," based on the title's parallels with Siri. As of this writing, though, Evi is still on sale for about 99 cents, and has managed over 200,000 downloads.
Evi combines a True Knowledge-built search engine with speech recognition technology licensed from Nuance. Although it can't add items to Calendar or Reminders, the app is similar to Siri in that it lets users ask natural-language questions and receive simple answers; instead of widgets, the app relies on web links. Its main advantage is that unlike Siri it can run on multiple iOS devices, not just the iPhone 4S.
Apple's position stems from an App Store guideline that says "Apps which appear confusingly similar to an existing Apple product or advertising theme will be rejected." True Knowledge CEO William Tunstall-Pedoe argues that Apple is trying to discourage competition. "I don't think it takes too much of a leap of the imagination to realise that 'confusingly similar' is code for 'competitive with' -- and that all the user and press reviews along the lines of 'now you don't need to buy a 4S -- you can download Evi', 'better than Siri' etc. have resulted in a change of heart from Apple about allowing its users to get the app."
Apple has approved multiple Evi updates in the past, but a recently submitted one is said to be taking over three weeks to get approval. Siri clones have proliferated since the launch of the iPhone 4S, largely to exploit the technology's device restrictions. Apple may expand Siri support in March, however, in tandem with the launch of an iPad 3.