AT&T-bashers should take pause. It was Apple, not the wireless carrier, that held off on approving Google Voice for the iPhone.
Apple “continues to study” the application and hasn’t approved it because it may “alter the iPhone’s distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone’s core mobile telephone functionality,” according to a letter to the Federal Communications Commission.
Google Voice lets you use a single phone number to receive calls on multiple phones and reach your voicemail. It also lets you send free text messages and make international calls for two cents — features that would jeopardize AT&T’s traditional revenue streams. So there was a ruckus when Apple inexplicably didn’t list it in the app store and then went further to delete similar applications last month, prompting an FCC inquiry.
Here is AT&T’s comment from Jim Cicconi, the company’s senior executive vice president:
“We appreciate the opportunity to clear up misconceptions related to an application Google submitted to Apple for inclusion in the Apple App Store. We fully support the FCC’s goal of getting the facts and data necessary to inform its policymaking.
“To that end, let me state unequivocally, AT&T had no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store. AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did we offer any view one way or the other.
“AT&T does not block consumers from accessing any lawful website on the Internet. Consumers can download or launch a multitude of compatible applications directly from the Internet, including Google Voice, through any web-enabled wireless device. As a result, any AT&T customer may access and use Google Voice on any web-enabled device operating on AT&T’s network, including the iPhone, by launching the application through their web browser, without the need to use the Apple App Store.”
Question 1. Why did Apple reject the Google Voice application for iPhone and remove related third-party applications from its App Store? In addition to Google Voice, which related third-party applications were removed or have been rejected? Please provide the specific name of each application and the contact information for the developer.
Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it. The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, 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. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone. For example, on an iPhone, the “Phone” icon that is always shown at the bottom of the Home Screen launches Apple’s mobile telephone application, providing access to Favorites, Recents, Contacts, a Keypad, and Visual Voicemail. The Google Voice application replaces Apple’s Visual Voicemail by routing calls through a separate Google Voice telephone number that stores any voicemail, preventing voicemail from being stored on the iPhone, i.e., disabling Apple’s Visual Voicemail. Similarly, SMS text messages are managed through the Google hub—replacing the iPhone’s text messaging feature. In addition, the iPhone user’s entire Contacts database is transferred to Google’s servers, and we have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways. These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering at this time.