Not long after Apple removed the official Google Voice application and any other applications that use Google Voice functionality from its iPhone App Store, the Federal Communications Commission has asked both Apple and AT&T to clarify the reasons of the removal.
The companies just answered FCC and published their statements.
A bit surprisingly, Apple stated that the company has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it.
As they explain, “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 seems to be concerned also about the proper data protection: “When using Google Voice 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.”
The company gives the examples of other applications that have also fall into this category.
Answering the question if Apple did act alone, or in consultation with AT&T, in deciding to reject the Google Voice application, the firm assures that it is acting alone and has not consulted with AT&T about whether or not to approve the Google Voice application.
“No contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T have been a factor in Apple’s decision-making process in this matter,” the statement says.
“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,” said Jim Cicconi, AT&T senior executive vice president, external and legislative affairs.
“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,” says the company’s statement.
Apple reminds that “there is a provision in Apple’s agreement with AT&T that obligates Apple not to include functionality in any Apple phone that enables a customer to use AT&T’s cellular network service to originate or terminate a VoIP session without obtaining AT&T’s permission.”
For example, AT&T’s Terms of Service prohibit an AT&T customer from using AT&T’s cellular service to redirect a TV signal to an iPhone.
“From time to time, AT&T has expressed concerns regarding network efficiency and potential network congestion associated with certain applications, and Apple takes such concerns into consideration,” Apple says.
Asked to explain any differences between the Google Voice iPhone application and any VoIP applications that Apple has approved for the iPhone, the company answered that it does not know if there is a VoIP element in the way the Google Voice application routes calls and messages, and whether VoIP technology is used over the 3G network by the application.
They also assured that they had never approved any application that works over AT&T’s 3G network.