Thursday, February 6, 2014

Anna Has Been Pulled From the Play Store

Back in September of 2012 I posted up my sample app called Anna which highlighted the power of doing speech recognition on mobile devices using PhoneGap. Today I've had to pull the app from the Play Store because of this infringement notice from Wolfram Alpha.

I don't have the strength, time nor money to fight this so I just going to rolled over pulled the app. I attempted to discuss it with Wolfram Alpha but they insisted I 1) pay for an commercial deployment license, 2) remove the Wolfram Alpha functionality or 3) pull the app. I can't afford the rates they charge for a commercial deployment license. Still they can't do anything about the source code for the app which is still available at:

I'm not even mad, just a bit puzzled as there is no way my sample app is in any way a threat to the Wolfram Alpha app in the Play Store. I guess they don't want to have a precedent where they don't aggressively enforce their terms of service.

It's rather silly as I don't even ship an API key with the app. If you want to use Anna you have to sign up with Wolfram Alpha so they won't be getting the, albeit small, exposure that my app provides. Also, I doubt I'll ever recommend them to any of my developer friends ever again.


jcesar said...

I don't understand a few things:

"you are using our registered trademark ('Wolfram Alpha', serial
no. 77738346) to promote a commercial product without permission"
Your app was free, no ads and open source, so I don't think that's a commercial app.

They talk like you weren't using the API, but in your post you say you were using the API. By the infingement notice it seems like they think you where doing webscrapping from their site instead using the API.

At least they contacted you and give you options, when my othello was deleted, I was contacted by google after the deletion with no option to change

Simon MacDonald said...


Yup, I've often tried to explain technical things to lawyers and it never goes over well. They always come up on the side that if they don't understand it they should just kill it.

Z DataTech said...

Forget Api or speech recognition. Try to create an App that uses the word "pong" in App name. Resembling anything moving horizontally back and forth and a company from digital graveyard will come out and yank it.

Z DataTech said...

Simon, is there such thing as vocal recognition of songs regardless of who sings the particular song? If one was to grab waveform samples from various types of professional singers of a particular song can a software detect when any average person is singing that song?

Looking forward to your thoughts.

Zeshan B.

Simon MacDonald said...

@Z DataTech

Well if you are looking for someone to sing into their phone you can use speech recognition to figure out the lyrics. Then you can query one of the on line lyric databases to find out the song title and artist.

Amos Hayes said...

If they don't have someone technical who acts as a go-between in situations like this, then I would be very wary of building anything on top of their platform, commercial or not. An over-zealous lawyer holding the job of evaluating technical compliance is downright scary.

Simon MacDonald said...

@Amos Hayes

Yup, when I responded back to the lawyer I congratulated him on turning an evangelist into a detractor.