Apple prepares to pull Siri competitor Evi from App Store

Word has it that Apple is getting uncomfortable with Evi, a voice recognition app not unlike its newly released iPhone 4S app, Siri.

Evi has been cleared to be sold in the iTunes App Store by Apple on a couple of different occasions, but according to a story from TechCrunch, the iPhone maker is preparing to pull it from the App Store. Evi developer, True Knowledge, has been waiting some three weeks for Apple’s approval of an update to Evi to add historical searches to the app, and True Knowledge CEO William Tunstall-Pedoe said the company was recently contacted by Apple and told the app would be pulled.

Voice-recognition app Evi is basically a search engine that allows users to speak questions to their iPhones (and Android devices as well) to execute an Internet search. Evi leverages True Knowledge’s proprietary search engine and licenses the same voice recognition technology that Apple’s Siri uses, which makes both apps pretty similar. Because it’s an Apple product, Siri allows users to do a lot more things, like add things to their device’s onboard calendar app or compose text messages, Twitter updates and emails using the app.

But the trouble with Siri is that it’s only available on the iPhone 4S, and if users want the lauded voice-sensitive app, they need to purchase Apple’s new hardware. That’s part of why Evi has gotten so much attention: it’s essentially a limited but pretty solid alternative to Apple’s own technology. That’s also the reason the app seems to be on its way out the App Store door.

According to the TechCrunch report, Apple says Evi runs up again the App Store’s Terms & Conditions rule 8.3, which states that apps can’t create confusion between themselves and existing Apple products. True Knowledge says “creates confusion between” is essentially another way of saying “competes against” Apple products.

If it’s true, it’s a pretty bold move, considering that Apple doesn’t usually seem to bother knocking out competitors from the App Store – instead, it usually just outcompetes them. There are thousands of to-do list apps in the App Store, for example, but when Apple announced iOS 5 last year, it rolled out its own to-do list app that’s built into iOS.

Siri is a different story, however. Apple has no vested interest in making Siri available on its older phone models since Siri was designed to be a big selling point for the iPhone 4S (a marketing strategy that worked well). Clearly, Apple want to protect its well-known software, even if it is to the detriment of True Knowledge and some 200,000 Evi customers.

We’ll have to wait and see how the Evi situation plays out.

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