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Should we continue using an app that Apple has rejected?

Brett Kelly

It doesn't happen so much anymore, but not too long ago you'd hear about a new offering arriving in the App Store that would stir up a little controversy (the NetShare tethering app springs to mind). They'd enjoy some fanfare and a ton of purchases for a few days before being summarily removed, never to return and often without a thorough explanation from Apple. A relatively small number of users would retain possession of the app and would take a bit of pride in knowing that they were in the right place at just the right time to snag a copy of the app before it was yanked.

When I got the email from our very own Mike Rose regarding the release of GV Mobile, I was pretty excited. I'd been wanting to more fully adopt the Google Voice service, but had wanted a more iPhone-ish experience in doing so and GV Mobile seemed to have just what I was jonesing for. I paid the three bucks right then and, like The Giving Tree, was happy.

My adoption plan for Google Voice didn't pan out quite like I'd hoped for a while after that. I'd use it occasionally, but I had trouble moving it from the number I gave to sales people to the number I gave to my mother-in-law. But, despite the absence of the app in the App Store, I still had a perfectly working copy of it on my iPhone, ready when I was - or so I thought.

A couple of weeks ago, I had decided that it was time to make Google Voice a more central part of my communication workflow. Having not launched GV Mobile in a while, I fired it up to reacquaint myself with the interface, capabilities, etc. Trouble is, I couldn't authenticate with Google. I triple-checked my credentials but the app would just throw an error on launch and that was that. A couple of people on Twitter had mentioned having the same issue and a quick Google search informed me that, sure enough, the app no longer worked. Apparently, Google had modified the Voice API such that authentication now worked differently than it did when GV Mobile was written. Because the app no longer had Apple's seal of approval, I had little recourse because there obviously weren't going to be any updates to the app anytime soon.

Which raised the broader question - how heavily should we rely on "orphaned" apps? If they're self-contained (which is to say, they don't rely on any web sites or services to function properly), it probably isn't a big deal, but if you're a heavy Google Voice user and GV Mobile is how you got your work done, is it really a good idea to hang your hopes on an app that will likely never see any type of upgrade or bugfix release?

I can confidently say that this little hiccup has seriously cramped my plans for more completely adopting Google Voice. Is the same true for you? Have you experienced this type of dilemma with any other now-missing App Store purchases? Tell us about it in the comments!

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