Apple Explained Why Google Voice iPhone App was Rejected

Apple has officially answered FCC questions about why Google Voice was rejected to appear in App Store. For those who didn’t keep track of the news, Apple rejected the Google Voice application for iPhone and removed all related third-party application from App Store. The rejection has drawn great attention & criticism around the net and even Federal regulators wanted to know why Apple rejected Google’s innovative Voice app from its App Store.

This is not the very first time Apple rejected iPhone applications submitted for App Store. Developers, bloggers and journalists around the net have criticized Apple for rejecting applications especially for those innovative applications trying to add feature and even replace iPhone’s default application like Phone or Mail applications.

Okay, here is the Apple’s answer to FCC’s question on why the Google Voice application was rejected:

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.

The answer is not very convincing. Anyhow, my interpretation is that Apple is telling all developers not to build any iPhone application that tries to replace any existing core iPhone functions. Otherwise, the end result is your application will be rejected. Hey, Apple, just relax. Developers are helping you to build a even better phone. Let us innovate together and build great apps that benefit all iPhone users.

In the response to FCC, Apple also provides more details about how the review process and the team responsible for the approval. It seems to me it’s the very first time that Apple talks about the relatively-secretive review process:


n a little more than a year, the App Store has grown to become the world’s largest wireless applications store, with over 65,000 applications. We’ve rejected applications for a variety of reasons. Most rejections are based on the application containing quality issues or software bugs, while other rejections involve protecting consumer privacy, safeguarding children from inappropriate content, and avoiding applications that degrade the core experience of the iPhone.

Apple developed a comprehensive review process that looks at every iPhone application that is submitted to Apple. Applications and marketing text are submitted through a web interface. Submitted applications undergo a rigorous review process that tests for vulnerabilities such as software bugs, instability on the iPhone platform, and the use of unauthorized protocols. Applications are also reviewed to try to prevent privacy issues, safeguard children from exposure to inappropriate content, and avoid applications that degrade the core experience of the iPhone. There are more than 40 full-time trained reviewers, and at least two different reviewers study each application so that the review process is applied uniformly. Apple also established an App Store executive review board that determines procedures and sets policy for the review process, as well as reviews applications that are escalated to the board because they raise new or complex issues. The review board meets weekly and is comprised of senior management with responsibilities for the App Store. 95% of applications are approved within 14 days of being submitted.

Google Voice is great telecommunication service developed by Google and now available to U.S. customer only. Google Voice improves the way you use your phone. It offers a centralized interface to get transcripts of your voicemail and archive or search all of the SMS text messages you send and receive. The best is Google Voice offers a single phone number and through the web interface you can configure that number to ring up to six phones such as your cell phone, home phone, office phone. You can also screen and block unwanted callers via the centralized interface. It’s such a cool service that Google releases it on iPhone but rejected.

Kicked out by Apple, the developer, Sean Kovacs, decided to release the Google Voice on Cydia as “GV Mobile”. So, if you’re from U.S. and with Google Voice account, you can download GV Mobile from cydia and try out on iPhone.

To learn more about Google Voice or get an invite from Google, check the official homepage of Google Voice.

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