How can Amazon be too far away when Apple and Google are all going the personal assistant way? Reports have it that Amazon has bought Evi, a voice-enabled personal assistant, fuelling rumours that an Amazon Phone is fast being developed.

Sources have told TechCrunch that the app has been acquired by Amazon for about $26 million. Evi has been developed by True Knowledge, a British startup. The best bit about Evi is that it works like a charm not just on iOS, but also on Android. In fact, when it was launched, Apple threatened to pull it out of the store for being too similar to Siri.

The app works in a vastly different way than a normal search engine. Evi tries to look beyond words to understand what the user is really trying to ask and answer questions from where the nearest bank is to how many centimetres make a metre.

The personal assistant app is quite like Siri

The personal assistant app is quite like Siri

Of course, neither Amazon nor the founders of Evi were willing to comment on the matter. Backers Octopus Ventures told TechCrunch: “On this occasion Octopus will decline to comment on this specific portfolio company.” The takeover seems imminent, though, with the discovery that Amazon’s representatives have been filling up positions in the UK Companies House previously occupied by the directors of Evi Technologies Ltd. 

Interestingly, Amazon had acquired a speech recognition company called Ivona Software in a sign that it was looking at developing more services like Siri. Ivona's technology already supports several features such as “Text-to-Speech” on Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet computers, said Dave Limp, who oversees the Kindle business. “We look forward to building great products to deliver world-class voice solutions to customers around the world,” Limp had said in a statement. Evi looks like it will join Ivona amidst rumours that Amazon’s smartphone is not too far away now.

Showing intent towards developing its business further, only yesterday Amazon had announced that it would be rolling out its Amazon Appstore in 200 countries, including India. Amazon informed registered developers who are keen to distribute internationally that their apps will be made available in the “coming months when the Amazon Appstore for Android launches internationally for consumers.” And the Appstore’s “one free app a day” offer would attract the most attention, we are sure.

Amazon is also said to be making a smartphone and Foxconn is rumoured to be manufacturing it. According to reports that emerged in November, the Kindle phone should be ready to be launched sometime in mid to end 2013. With the rollout of the Appstore to a multitude of countries currently, the markets will be ripe for the Kindle Phone.

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