Only yesterday we reported that Evi, a new iPhone (iTunes link) and Android app (link) which was incredibly Siri-like – and some say it’s better – had gotten a call from Apple that it was about to be pulled from the App store. Why? For being – as far as we could figure out – too much like Siri, and maybe, well, just too good.
Today, the buzz at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is that Apple has climbed down from that position, and in particular, as a result of our story.
Where the issue stands now is this: It looks like Evi will now be given “leeway time” (i.e. Apple won’t be pulling the app) and the ‘being too similar’ to Siri issue has gone from ‘not fixable’ to now ‘fixable’. We are hearing that Apple’s problems are with Evi’s UI, which is quite Siri-like, but clearly that can be fixed.
True Knowledge, the natural language search engine behind Evi, was told by Apple on Friday last week that it was “going to pull Evi from the app store” on the grounds it was “confusingly similar to an existing Apple product.”
Right after that there was a clear outcry from users and commenters on TechCrunch about this, on the face of it, rather anticompetitive behaviour. Although Evi is closer to a voice-activated search engine, Apple was essentially saying they didn’t like its competition with Siri. Ironically, both Siri and Evi license Nuance’s voice recognition technology.
Almost 200,000 Apple iPhone users have downloaded Evi, which works on any iPhone, not just the iPhone 4S, unlike Siri.
Neither Apple nor True Knowledge are commenting on the record but it’s looking like Evi will stay in the store.
Update: Apologies to The Verge who already had this. We had it via different sources. Still. Bon chance, mes amis.