Will Apple pull Siri rival Evi from the App Store?

It seems Siri doesn't want to compete for attention. The powers that be at Apple are looking to jettison voice assistant Evi from the App Store, says the app's developer.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Apple may be looking to take down its latest Siri rival for fear of competition.

Launched as an Android App, Evi made its iOS debut in Apple's App Store in mid-January. But after a little more than a month, its days may be numbered.

William Tunstall-Pedoe, CEO of Evi developer True Knowledge, told TechCrunch that he received a phone call on Friday from an Apple representative named Richard Chipman, who apparently handles some of the calls about apps on the chopping block.

Chipman reportedly told Tunstall-Pedoe that Apple was going to remove Evi from the App Store since it was similar to Siri.

The app not surprisingly appears to violate rule number 8.3 from the App Store Review Guidelines (PDF), which states that: "Apps which appear confusingly similar to an existing Apple product or advertising theme will be rejected."

Neither True Knowledge nor Apple immediately responded to CNET's request for comment.

But Tunstall-Pedoe wasn't shy about revealing his thoughts to TechCrunch.

"I don't think it takes too much of a leap of the imagination to realize that 'confusingly similar' is code for 'competitive with,'" Tunstall-Pedoe told the site, "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."

Evi has several assets. Its voice recognition is solid--it was quite adept at understanding all of my questions. It can handle math, language translations, historical facts, and a host of other tasks. You can even help the app learn by giving it a thumbs up or thumbs down, depending on how well it responds to you.

But compared with Siri, Evi comes up short in certain ways.

Unlike Siri, Evi can't interact with your iPhone. You can't tell it to make phone calls, send e-mails, or set up an appointment. And rather than display the answers to your questions directly, it sometimes suggests a Web site where you have to hunt for the information yourself. It also misses the boat on simple questions. When I asked Evi was time it was, it directed me to a Web site for Time magazine.

Often, the app has a tough time communicating with its back end, displaying the message: "I'm having trouble getting a response from my servers, you might want to try again in a minute."

So why is Apple concerned about Evi beyond the reason suggested by Tunstall-Pedoe?

Evi is backed up by True Knowledge's search engine technology, which provides a wide range of data.

So when the app is on target, you can easily dig up a wealth of facts on history, science, travel, cooking, and a variety of other topics.

Though I still prefer Siri overall, I did find myself drawn to Evi for tracking down certain information. And of course, Evi works on any iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad running iOS 4.0. So at 99 cents, it's not a bad option for iOS users who can't run Siri.

Anyone who wants to give Evi a spin should probably act quickly, though, as its life on the Apple Store could soon be cut short.

 

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