Apple has been expected to file a comment in response to the FCC’s probe into how Google, Apple and AT&T were involved, if at all, in the rejection of a Google Voice iPhone app from the AppStore. Today, Apple posted a lengthy response to each of the FCC’s questions regarding the matter. Apple defends their decision to boot Google Voice apps with the reasoning that Cupertino was just looking out for the iPhone user’s best interest. The comment cites everything from security concerns to usability issues to agreements with AT&T as reasons for rejecting certain iPhone apps from entering the AppStore.
It seems Apple was none too pleased to see Google Voice apps completely replacing elements of the iPhone’s UI that the iPhone-maker worked so hard to create. These applications disabled or otherwise circumvented user interfaces and services like the dialer screen, Visual Voicemail and SMS text message storage – something that Apple just wouldn’t stand for. Apple goes so far as to say that they had not gotten any assurances from Google that iPhone users’ contact databases (which are transferred to Google Voice) will only be used in “appropriate ways.”
Apple says that they acted alone in the decision to kick the Google Voice apps out of the iPhone’s AppStore. AT&T did not have a say in the matter. But (and this is one big “but”), Apple does admit to having a contractual obligation to AT&T to keep iPhone apps from initiating VoIP calls over the carrier’s 3G cellular network – which accounts for all the iPhone VoIP apps that are limited to WiFi-only operation. Another example of Apple’s concern for AT&T’s Terms and Condition was the decision to limit SlingPlayer Mobile to WiFi networks, as streaming TV signals over AT&T’s wireless network would have violated their T&C’s.
Apple goes on to say that they’ve had to deal with an enormous flood of iPhone application submissions, and that most app rejections are rooted in technical issues. And, aside from bugs and usability issues, Apple is cites their iPhone developer agreement in reserving the right to refuse apps:
“Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgment may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory; and
Applications must not contain any malware, malicious or harmful code, program, or other internal component (e.g. computer viruses, trojan horses, ‘backdoors’) which could damage, destroy, or adversely affect other software, firmware, hardware, data, systems, services, or networks.”
In the end, the response was exactly what we expected to hear from Apple. It’s not all lip-service either. Apple makes some good points about usability issues arising from Google Voice apps circumventing Apple’s own UI and integrated services. There’s also the issue of giving Google full access to contact databases.
On the other hand, once you own a smartphone, you should be able to whatever you damn well please with the handset. And, Google already knows everything about us, we really don’t need Apple protecting us from Google.