updated 03:33 pm EDT, Wed April 17, 2013
Voice assistant app for Android or iOS
Amazon has reportedly acquired voice-assistant app developer Evi Technologies, unnamed sources have told TechCrunch. The deal, which is said to be worth $26 million, is said to be focused on Evi's mobile apps for Android and iOS, which provide functionality similar to that of Apple's own Siri technology, though both parties have yet to make an official announcement.
Evi arrived on the App Store early last year, however developer True Knowledge later claimed that Apple was threatening to pull the app due to similarities with Siri. True Knowledge CEO William Tunstall-Pedoe publicly criticized Apple, arguing that the company was attempting to stifle competition. The alleged threats never came to fruition, as the app is still available as a free download.
Both Evi and Siri enable users to vocalize questions and listen to simple answers. The former relies on Nuance's speech recognition technology, paired with Evi's search engine, however it lacks Siri's integration with core utilities such as Reminders and Calendar.
Amazon in January acquired Ivona, a company that developed text-to-speech technology, fueling speculation of an Amazon-branded smartphone and a service that could compete with Siri. The latest report has added to the speculation, as Ivona's technology is viewed as a potential alternative to Nuance in a personal-assistant app.
Despite the lack of official conformation surrounding the alleged buyout, Evi backer Octopus Ventures' annual report is said to confirm that the developer's UK-based directors have been replaced by Amazon's UK legal representative.