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Apple denies rejecting Google Voice

updated 06:25 pm EDT, Fri August 21, 2009

Apple Denies GV Rejection

Apple on Friday took an unusual approach in its official response to the FCC's inquiries over the rejection of Google Voice for the App Store and denied that it had rejected the app at all. The company instead claims that it "continues to study" the software and now says its primary issues are with the integration of the app, which Apple insists duplicate too many iPhone features.

Among the objections, Apple claims that the auto-transcribed voicemail in the native app replaces its own phone app, and that SMS messaging also completely circumvents Apple's software, which it gave "a lot of time and effort" to produce. It also expresses concern that the submitted app may be violating privacy by passing iPhone contacts through the Google Voice servers that manage the call, although Apple doesn't attempt to explain why it sees no issue with syncing offline contacts with Google through iTunes.

The iPhone maker backs AT&T's story and is adamant that it neither asked for nor received input from that carrier regarding permission to carry the app. Alongside this, Apple echoes AT&T's interpretation elsewhere and says that it has barred bandwidth-intensive apps after discussion but that it has the final say on which software reaches the App Store. However, Apple appears to have done less investigation into Google Voice and says it "does not know" if VoIP is present; AT&T concluded that it doesn't and that it's only using a routing feature to direct calls to and from the Google Voice account.

Apple also argues to the FCC that customers still have choices as they can either use the web app or use a different platform where Google Voice is available, like Android or BlackBerry.

In addition to explaining its stance, Apple has also provided a rare insight into its app approval process, noting that over 40 staff review software and that at least two look at any given app to ensure consistent treatment. About 20 percent of apps are initially rejected, but 95 percent are approved within two weeks of the first submission, the company claims. An executive review board has also been established at an unnamed point in time to tackle exceptional issues with apps and sets policies. Unofficially, this board is believed to be behind Phil Schiller's public assurances that Apple is improving its approval process.

About 8,500 apps are submitted every week.

Google has issued its own response to the FCC but has chosen to self-censor its answer regarding Apple's response to the app, labeling it "confidential" in the public version of the document. It has nonetheless made clear that the web version of Google Voice loses the address book functionality of the native app and that its own open policies for apps submitted to Android Market would prevent it from manually blocking Google Voice, as it only makes automatic checks for content or features. Unlike Apple, Google allows Android apps to complement or even directly replace phone features such as the dialer.

The three responses appear to negate any initial accusations of collusion between AT&T and Apple to protect the former's voice business but nonetheless raise concerns of anti-competitiveness regarding features, as it bars third-party apps from competing with Apple on its own platform. Similar attitudes have led to some audio apps like RSSPlayer being at least temporarily banned from the App Store for competing with Apple's music features on the iPhone. Such rules have also prevented anyone from creating a direct alternative to the Safari web browser.

by MacNN Staff



  1. kerryb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    someone is a lying

    I think they all are a little guilty

  1. dscottbuch

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Please read the letter

    I wish people reporting on these issues would actually do some minimal research. For example

    quote from this article
    "Apple claims that the auto-transcribed voicemail in the native app replaces its own phone app"

    Related quote from actual letter
    " it appears to alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail."

    This has nothing specific to do with voicemail and, in fact, the word 'transcribed' does not appear in the letter. Apple's stated concern (whether true or not) is that it REPLACES much of the iPhone's user functionality. This is something that could be discussed here but, of course, it not nearly as sensationalistic.

    As was stated in the letter many apps don't go through the first round. This does not mean they have been 'rejected' as most people interpret that word. They have been 'returned' for changes which, most often, have to do with crashing or violation of the SDK license.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Developers are

    impatient. I understand if it's costing them money while the apps are under review, but with 40 staff members trying to handle 8500 apps a week, it must be a mind-numbing experience to deal with all those apps. It's just that bloggers sure do have a tendency to report wrong information or maybe they're just guessing about what is taking place.

    Developers and users that are unhappy can simply go to another platform that they think is better than Apple's. In some ways they'd be better off since they wouldn't have to compete with thousands of other developers and all apps would get instant approval (which I still find hard to believe).

  1. sdp4462

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Great way...

    to lose happy customers. Stupid Apple is letting their own innovation be squandered by a shite company like AT&T. Very sad.

  1. Loren

    Joined: Dec 1969


    8500 every week???

    Okay, we pop into a tester's cube.

    "Lessee, loads OK.

    "Any dirty pictures? OK.

    "Offensive language? OK.

    "Good use of MultiTouch? OK.

    "Subjugate or suppress native apps? Nope. OK.

    "End run around ATT voice? Yup."

    Rejected. Next."

    Time elapsed: 30 seconds.

    Latte break- 120 minutes.

    Yeah, it could be done.

  1. stevesnj

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I just don;t believe Apple or AT&T... the customer is getting screwed in the long run

  1. JuanGuapo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    There may come a day...

    ...when Apple will be trying to get it's apps on Google's services. Beware whose toes you step on for they may be connected to the a** you will have to kiss tomorrow.

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