Chalk up another controversial AppStore policy for Apple. This time around, the iPhone maker has pulled third-party apps that help iPhone users take advantage of Google Voice services. Both GV Mobile and VoiceCentral have been taken down from the AppStore. According to GV Mobile developer Sean Kovacs, Apple pulled his iPhone app on grounds that it duplicated functionality already present on the iPhone.
The Google Voice service ties all your different phone numbers into a single “Google Voice number,” allowing you to easily manage incoming calls, make cheap calls and send cheap SMS text messages.
On his blog, Kovacs says:
Richard Chipman from Apple just called – he told me they’re removing GV Mobile from the App Store due to it duplicating features that the iPhone comes with (Dialer, SMS, etc). He didn’t actually specify which features, although I assume the whole app in general. He wouldn’t send a confirmation email either – too scared I would post it. I’ll see what I can do to get it back up there gang…
Google is working on their own Google Voice iPhone app, so it’s conceivable that Apple pulled the plug on GV Mobile and VoiceCentral to help Google push their own-branded app. But, that’s a slippery slope drenched in conflict-of-interest juice that even Apple would probably want to avoid.
Another possibility could be that AT&T wasn’t happy seeing their bottom line pinched by iPhone users making cheap calls. It wouldn’t be the first time Apple messed with an iPhone app at a carrier’s request.
Whatever the reason, we’d like to see the iPhone playing nice with Google Voice sooner rather than later.