∞ Apple denies rejecting Google Voice from the App Store

Apple, Google and AT&T on Friday all replied to an FCC letter requesting clarification on why Google Voice was rejected from the App Store. Apple’s answer: We never rejected the app. iPhone 3GSIn fact, Apple says that the app is still under review.

“Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it,” Apple said in its letter to the FCC. “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.”

Google’s response, when asked by the FCC about Apple’s explanation for rejecting the app, has been redacted from the public letter, at Google’s request. However, the company did make a statement when the app was not accepted into the App Store in late July.

“Apple did not approve the Google Voice application we submitted six weeks ago to the Apple App Store,” said a Google spokesperson. “We will continue to work to bring our services to iPhone users — for example, by taking advantage of advances in mobile browsers.”

Notice that Google is using the same language that Apple used. The app was not approved — Google never said the app was rejected. This all seems like word games, but it could be important.

When Google confirmed that its Voice app was not approved, we all assumed that meant it was rejected. Maybe it really wasn’t. It could be that Apple went to Google told them a few things needed to be fixed before it could be accepted. That could explain why it is still under review.

AT&T denied it had any part to play in Google Voice not immediately being accepted into the App Store, and Apple backed up that claim in its letter to the FCC.

“Apple is acting alone and has not consulted with AT&T about whether or not to approve the Google Voice application,” Apple said in its letter. “No contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T have been a factor in Apple’s decision-making process in this matter.”

Apple did say that there is a provision in its contract with AT&T “that obligates Apple not to include functionality in any Apple phone that enables a customer to use AT&T’s cellular network service to originate or terminate a VoIP session without obtaining AT&T’s permission.”

For now, we wait and see what the FCC has to say about the responses. If Apple hasn’t officially rejected the Google app, there may still be a chance it will show up in the App Store someday.

In the meantime John Gruber has posted some “Choice Nuggets” from Apple’s letter that is worth a read.