Apple 'still pondering' Google Voice app approval

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Apple responded Friday to the Federal Communications Commission's inquiry into its handling of a VoIP application developed by Google, maintaining it has not officially rejected Google Voice and "continues to study it." According to Apple, Google's telephony application--along with several Google Voice-based third-party apps--were rejected or not included in the App Store because they interfere with the iPhone's "distinctive user experience"--the computing giant contends that Google Voice "appears to [replace] the iPhone's core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail."

Apple nevertheless maintains that it is "still pondering" Google Voice. "Google is of course free to provide Google Voice on the iPhone as a web application through Apple's Safari browser, just as they do for desktop PCs, or to provide its "Google-branded" user experience on other phones, including Android-based phones, and let consumers make their choices," Apple writes.

According to Apple, any decisions concerning Google Voice were made solely by internal brass--iPhone operator partner AT&T was not consulted. "No contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T have been a factor in Apple's decision-making process in this matter," Apple said. AT&T issued its own statement as well, attributed to Jim Cicconi, senior EVP of external and legislative affairs--the statement reads in part "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."

Apple also divulged new details on the App Store application approval process, noting "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. Given the volume and variety of technical issues, most of the review process is consumed with quality issues and software bugs, and providing feedback to developers so they can fix applications. Applications that are fixed and resubmitted are approved." According to Apple, it employs more than 40 full-time trained application reviewers, with at least two different reviewers looking at each app submission. In addition, an executive review board meets weekly to determine procedures and sets review process policies. Apple adds that 95 percent of all applications are approved within 14 days of submission.

"We receive about 8,500 new applications and updates every week, and roughly 20 percent of them are not approved as originally submitted," Apple said. "In little more than a year, we have reviewed more than 200,000 applications and updates."

For more on Apple's response to the FCC:
- read this release

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