Thursday, August 20, 2009

AT&T, Apple Comment on Google Voice App for iPhone

AT&T and Apple each responded to an inquiry from the FCC regarding the Google Voice app and Apple's App Store approval process AT&T stated unequivocally that it 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." Furthermore, AT&T stated that its policy is "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."

For its part, Apple stated that it continues to study the Google Voice application and that it has not rejected 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. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone." Apple also noted that Google is free to provide Google Voice on the iPhone as a web application through Apple's Safari browser.

Apple reiterated that it alone makes the final decisions to approve or not approve iPhone applications. However, 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.

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