Apple pulling Google Voice-enabled iPhone apps

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple is systematically pulling iPhone apps that use Google Voice to simplify and reduce the costs of making phone calls, though it's suspected Apple isn't the one making the actual judgment call.



One of these, developer Sean Kovacs, was surprised on Monday to discover that his GV Mobile client for Google Voice was to be pulled from the App Store as it was allegedly duplicating the iPhone's calling and text messaging features. Apple representative Richard Chipman contacted him personally but not only wasn't specific about what could be fixed but wouldn't provide e-mail to confirm the takedown.



But while individual removals aren't uncommon, later reports surfaced that Apple had pulled VoiceCentral, another competitor, and had even denied Google when it tried to quietly submit a Google Voice app six weeks ago -- a rejection uncommon for a company whose partnership with Apple normally gives it better-than-usual insight into the app development process.



The systematic disappearances don't have a larger official explanation but, given the common thread of their using the same service, is now thought less to a matter of Apple guarding its built-in features and more cellular carriers pushing it to keep the service out. Google Voice not only lets users provide one virtual phone number to call multiple real phones but greatly reduces the cost of outbound long-distance and messaging, all of which potentially deprive AT&T and eventually other carriers of possible extra revenue.



Such an unspoken ban would also go a step beyond normal restrictions on which apps are allowed and what they can do. In the past, carriers have argued against allowing voice over IP apps such as Fring and Skype on the cellular network for technical reasons, such as latency; the lag on even a 3G network is high enough that holding a regular conversation isn't really feasible, for example. But in restricting Google Voice, which still uses the regular voice network for much of its activity, the primary advantage is to eliminate competition.



Neither Apple nor AT&T has clarified their stances on the issue, though Apple when cornered has typically let carriers have final say on whether an app can remain on the App Store: Sling Media's remote TV viewing app, SlingPlayer, was barred from using 3G under AT&T's paradoxical view that the iPhone wasn't a phone and therefore that its normal rules didn't apply.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 141
    oc4theooc4theo Posts: 294member
    For consumers, this type of services is good because it encourages competition, making AT&T to lower its prices. But if Google like AT&T pays billions of dollars to subside iPhone, they have the right to put these services on the iPhone.



    In other words, this party is for the company who is hosting it. They deserve to say who gets invited. When and if iPhone ever sells for its full price to the public without subsidy, I do believe this kind of restriction will cease.
  • Reply 2 of 141
    eksodoseksodos Posts: 186member
    This is a great decision by Apple.



    Why should Google come along and deprive Apple and their valued partners of revenues? Go play with your Android friends Google. You are not wanted here.



    Even more important ensuring voice calls are of the highest possible quality. Guess who is going to get blamed when call quality is terrible, lines drop, and latency makes conversation next to impossible? The iPhone of course!!!



    Apple did the right thing here.
  • Reply 3 of 141
    nuts.



    I almost got GV Mobile earlier today when I was looking for a SIP app (and I'd never even heard of it). Sure enough... it's not there any more.
  • Reply 4 of 141
    tenobelltenobell Posts: 7,014member
    Apple's going to get a well deserved media thrashing for this.
  • Reply 5 of 141
    Meh, Google Voice is still a bit of a forgotten project as so few people have access to it...
  • Reply 6 of 141
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by eksodos View Post


    This is a great decision by Apple.



    Why should Google come along and deprive Apple and their valued partners of revenues? Go play with your Android friends Google. You are not wanted here.



    Even more important ensuring voice calls are of the highest possible quality. Guess who is going to get blamed when call quality is terrible, lines drop, and latency makes conversation next to impossible? The iPhone of course!!!



    Apple did the right thing here.



    What Apple is doing here is troubling. Looks like they are making an inadvisable trade-off for the short run. Hopefully, competition will handle it in the long-run: if GV does what it says it does effectively, and does take off on other mobile operating systems, handsets, and carriers, Apple will be forced to eat crow.



    Driving revenue (and profit) down is what competition is all about, nothing unusual there. One can only stop that for so long.



    As to "call quality," people can decide for themselves and make appropriate trade-offs between quality and cost. They're not collectively stupid.
  • Reply 7 of 141
    eksodoseksodos Posts: 186member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    What Apple is doing here is troubling. Looks like they are making an inadvisable trade-off for the short run. Hopefully, competition will handle it in the long-run: if GV does what it says it does effectively, and does take off on other mobile operating systems, handsets, and carriers, Apple will be forced to eat crow.



    Driving revenue (and profit) down is what competition is all about, nothing unusual there. One can only stop that for so long.



    As to "call quality," people can decide for themselves and make appropriate trade-offs between quality and cost. They're not collectively stupid.



    People are stupid. They will blame the iPhone when their voice calls are inaudible and prone to all the problems associated with these silly services. This will in turn hurt the brand and threaten sales of the device.



    Apple partners pay a fortune for exclusivity agreements. These partners make a big slice of their returns on people actively using the services they provide. I would be surprised if their agreements with carriers even permitted this kind of thing on the app store. Apple has a duty to look out for the interests of its commercial partners in the business.



    Oh and the vast majority of people won't have a clue what Google Voice is, nor will they care that its unavailable on the greatest mobile device the world has ever known. And like most Google products it's another epic fail and going nowhere fast.



    There is nothing troubling about this as far as I'm concerned. Good on Apple.
  • Reply 8 of 141
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by eksodos View Post


    People are stupid.



    That's a pretty arrogant statement.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by eksodos View Post


    They will blame the iPhone when their voice calls are inaudible and prone to all the problems associated with these silly services. This will in turn hurt the brand and threaten sales of the device.



    First, you have no clue what the quality will be like. Second, if they did complain, so what? Lots of people complain about worse, when it comes to Apple.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by eksodos View Post


    Apple partners pay a fortune for exclusivity agreements. These partners make a big slice of their returns on people actively using the services they provide. I would be surprised if their agreements with carriers even permitted this kind of thing on the app store. Apple has a duty to look out for the interests of its commercial partners in the business.



    Apple cannot be on the lookout for every one of its partners on every front, and has no "duty" to look after the commercial interests of its partners - its duty is to its shareholders and customers. Period.



    As to whether the carriers will permit this sort of thing, well have to see, won't we: that's why I specifically said, in my previous post "...if GV does what it says it does effectively, and does take off on other mobile operating systems, handsets, and carriers,....."



    As an aside, I just got my 'invitation' for GV and I do plan to sign up for it and try it out between some of my landline phones.
  • Reply 9 of 141
    w00masterw00master Posts: 101member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by eksodos View Post


    This is a great decision by Apple.



    Why should Google come along and deprive Apple and their valued partners of revenues? Go play with your Android friends Google. You are not wanted here.



    Even more important ensuring voice calls are of the highest possible quality. Guess who is going to get blamed when call quality is terrible, lines drop, and latency makes conversation next to impossible? The iPhone of course!!!



    Apple did the right thing here.



    Wow. Here's a gold star for you Extreme Apple Fanboy. Enjoy.



    This is simply terrible news for consumers and iPhone fans and iPhone developers. Simply god awful terrible news.



    w00master
  • Reply 10 of 141
    yuusharoyuusharo Posts: 311member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by eksodos View Post


    People are stupid. They will blame the iPhone when their voice calls are inaudible and prone to all the problems associated with these silly services. This will in turn hurt the brand and threaten sales of the device.



    Apple partners pay a fortune for exclusivity agreements. These partners make a big slice of their returns on people actively using the services they provide. I would be surprised if their agreements with carriers even permitted this kind of thing on the app store. Apple has a duty to look out for the interests of its commercial partners in the business.



    Oh and the vast majority of people won't have a clue what Google Voice is, nor will they care that its unavailable on the greatest mobile device the world has ever known. And like most Google products it's another epic fail and going nowhere fast.



    There is nothing troubling about this as far as I'm concerned. Good on Apple.



    Good on Apple? You're praising Apple for systematically targeting these applications and pulling them down after allowing them for months without question? Who is "hurt" or "threatened" by allowing a service like Google Voice into the app store? Certainly not Apple, because Apple doesn't care what platform its on as long as its their own. AT&T perhaps? Hardly, GV relies entirely on the network the phone is on, meaning a qualified data-plan and voice plan. No, the people it hurts are the developers who saw the App store as a golden opportunity for income... Well, no longer.



    I'll ignore the part where you needlessly called the iPhone the "greatest mobile device the world has ever known." I don't know, a life-saving defibrillator would at least be on par, but that's besides the point.



    Is Google Voice the end-all be-all service everyone should have? Probably not. Is it even the future? Who knows. But the fact that innovations like these are being completely stifled and snuffed out before they even have a chance is senseless. Apple LIED to their developers, and LIED to their customers. This has nothing to do about "duplicating functionality." If it were, why weren't they pulled months ago?



    Absolutely inexcusable. The HTC Hero has given me a glimpse at where Android is headed in the next year or two, and as much as I love my iPhone now, stories like these just put more of a sour taste in my mouth. Its nice to know there are over 500 fart and prank applications readily for sale, but game changers like Google Voice? No, we don't need any of that.....
  • Reply 11 of 141
    fraklincfraklinc Posts: 244member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by eksodos View Post


    This is a great decision by Apple.



    Why should Google come along and deprive Apple and their valued partners of revenues? Go play with your Android friends Google. You are not wanted here.



    Even more important ensuring voice calls are of the highest possible quality. Guess who is going to get blamed when call quality is terrible, lines drop, and latency makes conversation next to impossible? The iPhone of course!!!



    Apple did the right thing here.



    Dude STFU, you don't have a clue of what your talking about, google voice is not a VOIP service.

    Google Voice is just a virtual phone # that forward calls to your phone. Pulling this App makes no sense at all cause people can still log to google voice via the web browser and use the service. If AT&T had a free incoming call plan i will understand that they could be losing out on something but since they don't, i don't see a how this app could heard them.
  • Reply 12 of 141
    wlow3wlow3 Posts: 2member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... all of which potentially deprive AT&T and eventually other carriers of possible extra revenue.



    AT&T charged me for using AIM for iPhone ($.20 per text) and I was messaging/texting with an iPod touch, which also had AIM for iPhone installed (and didn't obviously get charged). They said it's an SMS app so they can do that even though AOL's own FAQ says it should be charged as data not an SMS transmission. Unfortunately it is impossible to find any support number or email for AOL (it's peer-to-peer community boards or nothing apparently) so I can't get AOL's position.



    AT&T is rapacious so this article does not surprise me.
  • Reply 13 of 141
    Apple needs to stop passing the buck here. If it's AT&Ts fault they should release a public statement slamming AT&T. Apple has all the power here and they refuse to use it on behalf of their users. It's a disgraceful behavior from a company that should know better. I hope Apple gets hit hard on this -- they deserve it.
  • Reply 14 of 141
    fraklincfraklinc Posts: 244member
    Sh*t like this makes the iPhone pretty vulnerable. If microsoft was to mimic the iPhone OS and get rid of all these bullshit restrictions apple has impose, they will buried the iphone, just like they did with Apple back in the days. History is about to repeat itself watch and see.
  • Reply 15 of 141
    "the lag on even a 3G network is high enough that holding a regular conversation isn't really feasible, for example?



    Nonsense. As anybody with a jailbroken device and VoIPover3G installed will happily tell you, the lag is virtually nonexistent and call quality is perfectly nice.
  • Reply 16 of 141
    yuusharoyuusharo Posts: 311member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wlow3 View Post


    AT&T charged me for using AIM for iPhone ($.20 per text) and I was messaging/texting with an iPod touch, which also had AIM for iPhone installed (and didn't obviously get charged). They said it's an SMS app so they can do that even though AOL's own FAQ says it should be charged as data not an SMS transmission. Unfortunately it is impossible to find any support number or email for AOL (it's peer-to-peer community boards or nothing apparently) so I can't get AOL's position.



    AT&T is rapacious so this article does not surprise me.



    I rarely, if ever, defend AT&T, but to their defense, the AIM application on the iPhone uses data-only, *NOT* your SMS package. The only time you're ever charged for SMS is when you use the messaging app, or receive a text message. Obviously, if you have AIM mobile enabled (where IMs are forwarded to your phone through SMS), then yes, you WILL be charged to use it.
  • Reply 17 of 141
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,347member
    Ed: Deleted. If you're going to attack other forum members, you stand a chance of just being silenced.
  • Reply 18 of 141
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,167member
    I still don't know why GV Mobile was removed. From what I've read and the videos I saw the app basically give access to the contacts and let you call them through your AT&T voice plan. Furthermore, AOL app let you send SMS too. The app seems to somehow combine several functions that other apps on the app store provide.

    I hope Apple stop this duplicate features nonsense.
  • Reply 19 of 141
    mpantonempantone Posts: 1,741member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by eksodos View Post


    This is a great decision by Apple.



    Why should Google come along and deprive Apple and their valued partners of revenues? Go play with your Android friends Google. You are not wanted here.



    Even more important ensuring voice calls are of the highest possible quality. Guess who is going to get blamed when call quality is terrible, lines drop, and latency makes conversation next to impossible? The iPhone of course!!!



    Apple did the right thing here.



    Wrong.



    This action unfairly punishes iPod touch users who paid full retail for their devices - no carrier subsidy.
  • Reply 20 of 141
    ipeonipeon Posts: 1,122member
    Yes, the lines between voice and data have merged.



    Minutes, SMS, MMS, data plans... WTF! It's all digital, why pretend that each service is different unless you are trying to scam your customers?
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