Apple Prepares To Pull Evi From App Store. Did It Slap-Down Siri?

Last month we reported on the launch of Evi, a new iPhone (iTunes link) and Android app (link) which was very Siri-like in its capabilities. Maybe it was too good at acting like Siri?

Yes, Evi can’t do Siri’s trick of adding things to your iPhone Calendar or hook into reminders. But, ask “How do I make apple pie?” and Evi provides a list of recipes with web links. Siri can’t give you a direct answer and just asks whether you want to search the web. Perhaps it’s the fact that Evi is pretty damn good, and doesn’t look a million miles away from Siri, that Apple has told True Knowledge that it is going to pull Evi from the App Store. Wait, what?

Apple has approved versions of Evi for the appstore multiple times – including post-Siri. However, the word on the street at Mobile World Congress is that there have been ominous signs that Apple was unhappy with the competition, including the one update True Knowledge submitted after launch (which merely added a historical searches feature). This has taken three weeks and counting to get approved.

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”.

Ironically, both Siri and Evi license Nuance’s voice recognition technology. But Siri doesn’t have Evi’s True Knowledge’s search engine behind it.

True Knowledge CEO William Tunstall-Pedoe told me: “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.”

It is certainly highly aggressive for Apple to pull an app from the store. The usual process is to reject the app (in writing) and allow the developer to fix. However, it appears Apple’s line is essentially that fixing Evi isn’t an option.

Pulling it will also leave almost 200,000 Apple users who have already purchased the app without the ability to get updates.

Evi is still up on the Apple app-store now but it’s likely it won’t be there for very long.

The Android version of Evi is unaffected of course, which means Android users will get the benefits, but iPhone users are being told, it’s Siri or nothing.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment.