Apple Planning to Pull Evi – Siri-like iPhone App From App Store?

Back in January, True Knowledge had released Evi – an iPhone app that brought Siri-like functionality to non-iPhone 4S devices.

Though it suffered hiccups due to the surge in traffic because of the initial demand, the $0.99 iPhone app has been downloaded more than 200,000 times from the App Store.

Though Evi lacked integration with iPhone apps, which is one of the key features of Siri, Evi comes with the following features:

  • Voice or text input – Chat to Evi in plain English and she will understand
  • Local information for UK and USA – Shopping, news, dining and more. Evi knows where you are and gives answers based on your location
  • One tap words – Allowing you to build your question super-fast
  • Built in browser – No need to swap to a different browser, view web links within Evi’s app
  • A learning and adapting intelligence – Rate Evi’s answers to help her learn more about the world
  • More than a search engine – Evi takes the searching out of search, able to review and compare nearly a billion facts from her database to give you exactly what you need

But according to TechCrunch, it looks like Evi may not be available for too long in the App Store as Apple is apparently not too happy with the competition.

Mike Butcher of TechCrunch reports:

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”.

True Knowledge’s CEO William Tunstall-Pedoe believes:

“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.”

We will ignore comments where Tunstall-Pedoe says Evi is better than Siri (at least in the U.S.), it’s not by a long way even if we don’t consider the integration with pre-installed apps. Even today when we ask Evi questions, we initially got a response from Evi telling us it was having trouble getting a response from its servers, followed by the answer to our question after a few seconds, where as when we ask Siri the same question, it responds almost immediately.

We would be fine if Apple removed the app from the App Store because it doesn’t work most of the time and was getting too many complaints from users, but removing it because it is “confusingly similar” to Siri is the wrong reason as we expect better than that from Apple (though it has disappointed us earlier). We’re assuming  that Tunstall-Pedoe is telling us the real reason that was given to him by Apple, as it seems a little odd that Apple did not remove the app  for violating the rule before making the call or even approved it in the first place. Apple planning to remove an app just doesn’t sound right to us (it typically removes the app and then calls the developer to tell them why their app was removed).