Apple may decide to ok Google Voice on the iPhone afterall

Apple declares that it has not rejected Google Voice but is merely investigating it.

iPhone users may still have a chance to be granted Apple's ok to use iPhone apps that access Google Voice. Apple's latest statement comes in response to the Federal Communications Commission's July 31 inquiry into the matter. Apple and AT&T denied that AT&T had anything to do with Apple's decision to block Google Voice from the iPhone. Apple is now saying that it hasn't exactly rejected Google Voice, either.

The company now says:

"Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study 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.

"The following applications also fall into this category.

  • Name: GVDialer / GVDialer Lite

    Developer: MobileMax
  • Name: VoiceCentral

    Developer: Riverturn, Inc.

    4819 Emperor Blvd., Suite 400

    Durham, NC 27703
  • Name: GV Mobile / GV Mobile Free

    Developer: Sean Kovacs

"We are continuing to study the Google Voice 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 through Apple’s Safari browser, just as they do for desktop PCs, or to provide its 'Google-branded' user experience on other phones, including Android-based phones, and let consumers make their choices."

But despite the slap at Google and its Chrome browser in this statement, it isn't Google that Apple is punishing. It is MobileMax, Riverturn and Sean Kovacs. Indeed, all three of the big vendors involved, Apple, AT&T and Google, have offered involved explanations in which they each denied responsibility for third-party Google Voice apps being rejected by Apple. (The full statements can be found here (Apple, Google, AT&T).

AT&T had apparently previously negotiated with Apple to block all VoIP apps, not just Google Voice, reports PC World. But Google Apps isn't the first VoIP iPhone app. Skype already offers an iPhone VoIP app with free calls only available to other Skype users. That's as much as Skype users expect.

The curious thing about this whole situation is that, in most instances when a mobile phone user accesses Google Voice via a cell service, whether that's to place a call or, in some cases, receive it, it uses up minutes. The only way to bypass using minutes is to access Google Voice over WiFi. If Apple approves Google Voice on the iPhone, and it doesn't restrict the Google Voice features supported, iPhone users could be granted a way to bypass using cell minutes while making phone calls to any other number. And then, what was the real point of all of this fuss?

Here's a Google Voice overview, although it leaves information on the best, and most contentious, feature. Once you access your Google Voice voicemail, you are given an option to make a call, thereby converting your cell call to VoIP.

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