A little over a year ago, a handful of Google Voice applications co-existed peacefully inside Apple’s App Store.
VoiceCentral, GVDialer, and GV Mobile were each developed by independent programmers to leverage the Google Voice service in order to provide iPhone owners with the ability to make and receive calls using their Google Voice numbers, access Google Voice voicemail messages instead of using the iPhone’s built-in voicemail features, and send and receive free text messages without incurring charges from AT&T.
Perhaps sensing an opportunity, Google developed its own official Google Voice app for the iPhone and submitted it for approval. Much to everyone’s surprise, Apple didn’t approve it (they didn’t reject it, either, apparently). What Apple did do is remove all the other third-party Google Voice apps that had been living in the App Store for months.
This eventually sparked an investigation by the FCC wherein Apple was pointedly asked why it rejected the Google Voice application and removed the other third-party applications.
“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.”
Read the entire response here. Apple has been “studying” the official Google Voice app for over a year now. However, with the recent release of Apple’s App Store development guidelines, the third-party developer of GV Mobile, Sean Kovacs, has been informed by Apple that if he re-submits his app, it “will most likely” be approved.
That’s great for Kovacs, but it also potentially means that Google’s official Google Voice application would finally make its way into the App Store. Current iPhone owners can use a web-based version of Google Voice, but an actual application would provide far more features and a more seamless integration into how the phone handles calls, text messages, and voicemail for Google Voice users.
It would also potentially provide a way to sidestep paying for a text messaging plan from AT&T, which many speculated was part of the reason the app hasn’t been approved. Apple claims that it “is acting alone and has not consulted AT&T about whether or not to approve the Google Voice application,” but with its text messaging plans running between $5 and $20 per month, you can see where AT&T’s got a vested interest in making sure there’s no easy way around paying for text messages.
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