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Apple Threatens To Pull British Siri Rival From App Store

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Apple is said to be planning to pull the voice assistant Evi app from its App Store, because it is ‘confusingly similar’ to Siri

Apple is not happy with a small British firm and has threatened to pull the plug on its voice assistant app, Evi.

It was only last month when Cambridge-based startup True Knowledge released the voice-activated, personal assistant app for iPhone and Android smartphones.

Evi is able to answer questions posed by the user just like Siri on the iPhone 4S, but is available on all iOS and Android devices.

Apple threat

It seems that those in charge at Apple Towers are less than impressed. William Tunstall-Pedoe, chief executive of True Knowledge, told The Guardian newspaper that he had been contacted by an Apple representative last Friday, and was informed that a decision had been made and that the Evi app would be removed imminently from the Apple App Store.

Tunstall-Pedoe confirmed to the newspaper that Apple’s Richard Chipman had indicated Evi was being reviewed under condition 8.3 of the App Store’s terms and conditions, which bans apps that appear confusingly similar to an existing Apple product.

Evi, like Siri, uses the same speech recognition system, Nuance. However, it also uses its own set of servers to work on the content of the user’s request. Evi is available on the App Store for 69p and on the Android Market for free and it has proved popular with mobile users.

TechWeekEurope checked and the Evi app was still available on the Apple App Store as of Tuesday 7am.

Siri comes preloaded on the iPhone 4S and is deeply embedded into that device. However, it has continued to struggle with strong accents in the UK, and has been blamed for a dramatic increase in mobile data use.

To make matters worse, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, now chief scientist with FusionIO, has voiced his criticism of Siri and claimed that the similar Iris voice recognition software available for the Android platform was superior.

Siri also faces another major problem – it is mostly US-focused and cannot do UK-focused searches. Consequently, many Brits have opted to install Evi which, unlike Siri, can look up British businesses and maps. It also reportedly handles British regional accents much better than Siri.

Tunstall-Pedoe told The Guardian that downloads of Evi are currently running at equal levels on the Android and iOS platforms – but it remains to be seen how long Evi will remain on Apple’s App Store.

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