Yeah, there’s an app for that. But for how long, and at what cost?
With the recent kerfuffle surrounding the removal and rejection of Google Voice apps from the App Store, many developers are beginning to question the trust they have placed in Apple to provide them with a reliable system for developing and distributing applications.
Generally, the major hurdle associated with iPhone development is getting approved by Apple. It’s no secret that this process is often quite frustrating, and sometimes downright arduous. Developers often wait several weeks without any response before they are suddenly rejected, and then they must make the requested changes (if possible), resubmit their application, and again wait for a response.
But once they have put your app through the paces, and presumably have double and triple checked to ensure that you have complied with the terms, you’re safe, right? Your hard work has paid off, Apple has accepted your app, and now you can move on.
As the developers of GV Mobile and VoiceCentral recently discovered, Apple can take an app that was previously given the all-clear, decide that it now duplicates native functionality of the iPhone, and yank it from the App Store in a matter of minutes. Needless to say, there are some serious flaws in this process. First, the functionality provided by both of these apps isn’t actually provided by the iPhone, so there’s really nothing to duplicate, unless Apple is going to start expecting developers to predict future features and avoid duplicating those too. Then you have the fact that the feature sets provided by the apps and the iPhone itself have not changed since Apple approved them in the first place, so if they truly are duplicating native functionality, they should have been rejected from the start, not months after they were approved.
Now one might also argue that some features offered by Google Voice do overlap with the iPhone, such as the SMS and voicemail functions, although contrary to popular belief, Google Voice is not a VoIP service and doesn’t really compete against AT&T. But even if you concede that point to Apple, couldn’t they just ask the developers to remove those features and resubmit? What about the other apps — like Skype, TextFree, or iCall — that offer similar feature sets, are they going to disappear too? And if AT&T is really responsible for this, as has been suggested previously, why was the app pulled from the App Stores of other countries? Why not just honestly tell the developer that the app is being pulled at the request of the carrier?
TUAWYeah, there’s an app for that. But for how long, and at what cost? originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Thu, 30 Jul 2009 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.