Apple threatens to kill Evi

Apple is furious that a Cambridge-based upstart has produced a better version of voice activated service Siri and is threatening to pull it from the App Store.

Evi was placed on Apple’s App Store and the technology it has is better at handling British accents and providing regional information. Siri, which means “arse” in Japanese, can’t look at the British map, or refer you to British businesses, and refuses to tell you how to get an abortion. It is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. Apple wants the British to put on an American accent to use the States-centric app, which is still in beta and can’t understand a word they say.

William Tunstall-Pedoe, chief executive of True Knowledge, which makes the app, told the Guardian that he had been contacted by an Apple representative and was told that Evi would be pulled.

Tunstall-Pedoe confirmed to the Guardian that 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 is similar to Siri in that both offer voice-driven speech analysis to find data to help users. Siri is embedded into the iPhone 4S.

Evi uses the same speech recognition system, Nuance, as Siri, but depends on its own set of servers rather than those in Apple’s walled garden of delights. Tunstall-Pedoe said that he was waiting for further information from Apple, which had not responded to a request for information.

Evi has been popular on both Apple and Android stores. Having been available for three weeks, it is approaching half a million downloads.

The Android version is free because it uses Google’s voice recognition system, but the iPhone version costs 69p, which is supposed to cover the cost of the Nuance voice recognition system.

We have given Evi a go on Android and it’s quite good.