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FCC Responses: Apple's take on the GV apps mess


The functionality allowing an app to replace Visual Voicemail with a separate service is neither novel nor categorically banned from the App Store, as this is already available in the YouMail app. The iPhone supports standard GSM codes for conditional forwarding of calls to third-party answering services, and YouMail's app works just fine for collecting and receiving voicemail on the iPhone. There are also third-party services that sync contacts for the iPhone. The SMS component may be a new wrinkle, and the 'takes over the iPhone' approach is certainly of concern... but none of that explains clearly what changed between the time the other GV apps were approved and the 'non-rejection' hold of the official app.
Apple goes on to agree with AT&T that the carrier did not engage on any level regarding the GV apps.

Question 4. Please explain any differences between the Google Voice iPhone application and any Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications that Apple has approved for the iPhone. Are any of the approved VoIP applications allowed to operate on AT&T's 3G network?
Apple does not know if there is a VoIP element in the way the Google Voice application routes calls and messages, and whether VoIP technology is used over the 3G network by the application. Apple has approved numerous standard VoIP applications (such as Skype, Nimbuzz and iCall) for use over WiFi, but not over AT&T's 3G network.
As we noted in some of our original coverage of the GV controversy, Google Voice is not a VoIP service in the same way that Skype or Gizmo are, since it continues to use the cell network for voice connectivity to the device. Apple's response to the FCC inquiry shows that they are on the same page.
Apple developed a comprehensive review process that looks at every iPhone application that is submitted to Apple. Applications and marketing text are submitted through a web interface. Submitted applications undergo a rigorous review process that tests for vulnerabilities such as software bugs, instability on the iPhone platform, and the use of unauthorized protocols. Applications are also reviewed to try to prevent privacy issues, safeguard children from exposure to inappropriate content, and avoid applications that degrade the core experience of the iPhone. There are more than 40 full-time trained reviewers, and at least two different reviewers study each application so that the review process is applied uniformly. Apple also established an App Store executive review board that determines procedures and sets policy for the review process, as well as reviews applications that are escalated to the board because they raise new or complex issues. The review board meets weekly and is comprised of senior management with responsibilities for the App Store. 95% of applications are approved within 14 days of being submitted.
If nothing else, this is a bit more transparency into the approval process than what we've seen before.

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