Apple says it turned away the Google Voice app because it would have changed the workings of the iPhone.
Apple’s senior vice-president worldwide government affairs, Catherine Novelli, said the Google app “appears to alter the iPhone.. 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.”
“Google Voice replaces Apple’s Visual Voicemail by routing calls through a separate... telephone number that stores any voicemail, preventing voicemail from being stored on the iPhone,” said Novelli in response to a query from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
She added that similar rerouting occurs for SMS and user contacts database.
Novelli denied Apple had rejected the application from the App Store, but said it had not been approved because of its impact on the device and the user experience.
“We are continuing to study the application and its potential impact on the iPhone user experience. Google is of course free to provide Google Voice on the iPhone as a web application, or to provide its ‘Google-branded’ user experience on other phones, including Android-based phones,” Novelli said.
In a separate reply, AT&T SVP James Cicconi said the carrier had nothing to do with the decision.
“AT&T had no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the...store. AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did it offer any view one way or the other,” he said.
Apple confirmed this, but also added that there is a provision within its agreement with AT&T that forbids Apple from including native VoIP functionality within any iPhone.
“Apple has approved numerous standard VoIP applications (such as Skype, Nimbuzz and iCall) for use over Wi-Fi, but not over AT&T’s 3G network,” the letter adds.
In the public version of its response to the FCC, Google excised the explanation given by Apple for not approving the VoIP app.