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Apple tells Siri rival Evi: Get a facelift and you can stay

Brit voice command app may not be axed from App Store

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A British voice-recognition app that works like Siri may be allowed to stay in Apple's App Store, if it makes some changes, says a report in The Verge.

Information app Evi was approved and launched in the iTunes store on 23 January 2012. But on Friday it seemed that Apple's App Store arbitrators had changed their minds and were going to pull the app, complaining it was too similar to Siri. Replicating the functions of native iOS apps contravenes the rules of the App Store.

But looks like the axe has been stayed: several reports today suggested that Apple might make an exception to its rules and work with Evi's developers to differentiate Evi from Siri while allowing the application to remain on sale. The app was still available on iTunes at time of writing. It would be a surprising volte-face for Apple, which isn't known for making compromises, especially not with small British start-ups like the Cambridge-based Evi-makers True Knowledge.

From a quick in-office test of the two apps, Evi was not a flawless guide to the internet, but for British users it could be a lot more useful than Siri as it has the capacity to look up British maps and British businesses, a feature still lacking in Siri.

Evi's backend works differently to Siri's – though the interface is admittedly pretty similar. Evi works by directly questioning a vast database of knowledge (containing a billion facts according to the site), and using search engines for more topical enquiries. Siri uses search engines and digs into the phone's native apps.

The Verge implies that it is the interface that would have to be overhauled to make Apple happy and the reason Apple suspended the axe is that Evi was too good to pull.

After failing to receive a response from either Evi devs True Knowledge or Apple, we asked Evi whether it thought it would be pulled from the App Store: "Good question. Not sure what the answer is though."

Siri drew a blank too: "I can only look for businesses in the USA and when you're using US English." ®

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