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App clashed with the iPhone's existing functionality and had to be banned, Apple insists

When Google Voice was banished from the iPhone, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission launched an investigation of Google, Apple, and AT&T, seeking more details to determine if something improper was taking place.  AT&T quickly pointed the finger at Apple, saying it played no part in the rejection.

Now Apple has issued its own response and it appears it is indeed claiming responsibility for the rejection.  Apple in the statement says that it does not think of the app as rejected, but rather considers it under "study".  Apple states that the application alters "the iPhone's distinctive user experience" and that it "disables Apple's Visual Voicemail".  Apple is also unhappy that the app syncs the iPhone's contacts with Google contacts, despite the fact that Apple's Mac computers already can do this.

In its statement Apple expresses fears that its users wouldn't be able to understand Google Voice or use it properly, as it replaces frequently used elements of the iPhone interface.  It indicates that concerns over confusing users or depriving them of functionality were driving reasons for not approving the application.

One significant comment which Apple makes is that it would welcome a Google Voice web application.  Google is reportedly tailoring just such a web application at this time, which would provide identical functionality to the rejected app.

Interestingly, while it backed up AT&T's story on the GV rejection, Apple contradicted AT&T's claim that AT&T never played a part in rejecting apps.  It says that it rejected the SlingPlayer app initially, "because redirecting a TV signal to an iPhone using AT&T's cellular network is prohibited by AT&T's customer Terms of Service."

Also interesting is the inside peek at the app store's approval team given in the statement.  Apparently there's 40 full-time trained iPhone app reviewers working on the team and they review over 8,500 apps a week.  Apple claims only 20 percent of apps are not approved as originally submitted (this may include delays, though, such as qualifying the app as adult under the parental controls).

Google was remarkably quiet in its own response.  It said little of interest, except for claiming that it did not police its Android marketplace (contradictory to reports).  Perhaps there was some more interesting content, but much of its statement was redacted.



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only Mick said "too confusing"
By johnsonx on 8/24/2009 12:16:22 PM , Rating: 4
The moment I saw the headline to this article, I immediately thought two things:

1. Jason Mick would be the author.
2. The source material for the article would not actually include the words "too confusing".

Sure enough, the word "confusing" or any other form of "confuse" does not appear in the Apple statement. Yet Mick quotes Apple not once, but twice as saying "too confusing".

Mick, go learn something about journalism. Please. It's getting sad.




RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By Omega215D on 8/24/2009 12:23:44 PM , Rating: 1
On the MaximumPC website the article on this subject is titled "FCC Reveals Apple (Not AT&T) Blocked Google Voice." The article there makes no mention of it being too confusing, only that Google Voice "alters the iPhone's distinctive user experience."


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By Omega215D on 8/24/2009 12:25:17 PM , Rating: 2
Here's the link to it... I didn't want to at first as it is a competing site and that people here don't like MaximumPC as much as I do...

http://www.maximumpc.com/article/news/fcc_reveals_...


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By Spivonious on 8/24/2009 12:27:30 PM , Rating: 2
Maximum PC is a shell of its former self.

Back when it was a paper magazine called boot, that was good stuff.


By atlmann10 on 8/24/2009 12:57:59 PM , Rating: 1
I fully agree with that statement (about Maximum PC/Boot). I used to always get Boot, even looking forward to it's next issue. I was of course subscriber . I get Maximum now and again, but have mostly switched to CPU.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By randomposter on 8/24/09, Rating: -1
RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By invidious on 8/24/2009 12:45:36 PM , Rating: 2
A blog is a journalism outlet, no morphing is necisary.


By randomposter on 8/24/2009 1:46:04 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
A blog is a journalism outlet

I suppose in some incredibly broad sense that could be true, but in practise if you actually read blogs as a news source you will end up in an intellectual wasteland, and possibly even turn into a drooling mouth-breather.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By omnicronx on 8/24/2009 12:46:25 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly! DT does not go that far in depth, they merely give you a feel for the topic at hand. Never thought of it before but it is exactly what you say, a news aggregator, or a gateway to all that is new in technology. It may not be the most recent or specific, but it is a good place to get your tech information on a broad array of topics.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By The0ne on 8/24/2009 1:12:12 PM , Rating: 3
News aggregator? Are we serious here? That would mean DT gathers "news." A blog is something some person(s) expresses himself or herself about their stupid lives. So which do you want it, blog or news?

Unfortunately, I think because of poor journalism whether it be blogging or news, it has become confusing. If you are reporting news or referring to them and want to give your opinion the at least say so. With blogging, we at least know that the person is doing just that. With news its either news or editorial opinions like TV CNN, Fox, etc.

In this state one is most likely to believe that is it "confusing" if they didn't know any better, in which case this is most of those that don't bother to research.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By omnicronx on 8/24/2009 1:26:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
News aggregator? Are we serious here? That would mean DT gathers "news."
A bunch of news topics all brought to a simple site, with what is usually very basic information. So yes, it is a news aggregator.
quote:
In this state one is most likely to believe that is it "confusing" if they didn't know any better, in which case this is most of those that don't bother to research.
Live what you preach, obviously you didn't do your research as if you did, you would know that Apple did say it was confusing, it just was not in their official press release. Press releases always step around the truth, so I find it funny that not only do you consider this 'proof' but you consider going to a link that the author provided (in which you don't agree with his findings) is the only source you visited. Talk about hypocritical..


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By The0ne on 8/24/2009 6:33:31 PM , Rating: 2
um yea. ok.

News agregator is as you said but it is for NEWS. There's is a difference between news and editorial news. Enough said.

And yes, you did understand my point and referred me to Google for something that should have been relevant considering that it's in the title. But yea, thanks for telling me and so many others to go Google something.

It's not a matter of being hypocritical. Actually, you seem to just use the term to make you happy. Anyhow, clearly a difference of opinion between what you consider news/editorial and what I consider them to be. Cheer's lol


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By Murst on 8/24/2009 12:28:29 PM , Rating: 3
From the apple release:
quote:
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. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone.

Obviously, Apple does want to protect its own user experience, at least according to that quote. Perhaps using "confusing" isn't the best word, but it isn't an unreasonable interpretation of what apple is saying. It may not be right... but it is reasonable.

If you don't agree with Mick's interpretation of events, why do you continue to read them? Seems like you just want to troll his posts.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By johnsonx on 8/24/2009 12:45:43 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
If you don't agree with Mick's interpretation of events, why do you continue to read them? Seems like you just want to troll his posts.


DailyTech was, until recently, one of my favorite web sites. I'm frustrated that the usefulness and relevance of this site has been all but ruined by one bad writer who seems to have taken over the entire site. This morning I planned to just read a few articles and keep my mouth shut (err... keyboard fingers idle), but Mick falsely quoting his source (again) and slanting the article in a completely different direction than the source (again) was just too much to bear on this otherwise fine Monday morning.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By dark matter on 8/24/2009 2:26:04 PM , Rating: 3
Did anyone hold a gun against your head and say "Read Micks Blog"?


By Omega215D on 8/24/2009 4:16:47 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, it was Mick himself and his army of Domo-Kuns!

http://h-chan1981.tripod.com/sitebuildercontent/si...


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By TSS on 8/24/2009 5:19:55 PM , Rating: 5
...is this a blog?

I'm sorry but this beeing listed at anandtech as "dailytech news" and on dailytech.com this beeing listed under "latest headlines".....

Yeah where forced to rummage through a blog to read news. Other articles which *are* quality, including a few of mick himself, are listed as much as news as this.

If it where at gun point atleast we'd still have a choice :p


By foolsgambit11 on 8/26/2009 2:05:51 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
...Mick falsely quoting his source...

Ah, here's the confusion. Jason didn't quote his source. Neither his headline nor the other use of 'confusing' are quotes. It is an interpretation of the statement made by Apple. Of course Apple will avoid heavily-laden words like 'confusing' in their statement, favoring a statement more like, "it interferes with the seamless, user-friendly experience" (not an exact quote, just an example of encoding confusing into more 'polite' language). And perhaps Apple is right. I haven't used the app, so I can't tell.

You may not agree with Mick's choice of words. That's fine. But a journalist isn't supposed to only give you facts. The interpretation of those facts is a critical part of the journalistic process, despite the lofty claims of 'unbiased' journalists in our modern sanitized media. It is the burden of the reader to have the ability to see what is a quotation or statement of hard fact and what is a journalistic flourish or an interpretation of a fact to place it into the larger context of an issue.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By johnsonx on 8/24/2009 12:30:34 PM , Rating: 5
In addition to my comment above, it should also be noted that if you actually read Apple's statement you'll find that the entire slant of Mick's article is unrelated to the statement. Apple never "expresses fears that its users wouldn't be able to understand Google Voice or use it properly" in any way. Mick has put a LOT of words into Apple's statement that just aren't there.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By Murst on 8/24/09, Rating: -1
By omnicronx on 8/24/2009 12:42:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Apple never "expresses fears that its users wouldn't be able to understand Google Voice or use it properly" in any way.
Well actually they did, he just didn't source it. Google is your friend, DT is nothing more than a gateway for information. If you actually want to dig deep you are going to need to look into it yourself. Merely following up on the authors sources may not do it for you every time, especially if they are trying to push an agenda, which less face it, all journalists do in one way or another, whether they intend to or not...


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By omnicronx on 8/24/2009 12:36:20 PM , Rating: 5
http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/08/apple-att-a...
quote:
Instead, the company is still just “studying” Google’s application, which is taking a long time since the Voice service might be too confusing for iPhone users, Apple vice president Catherine Novelli wrote in a seven-page letter.
The article could have been sourced much better, but the information in the article is pretty much correct. You are not a good reader if you only take one source into account, if you really want to get to the bottom of things, it is just as much your job to check the credibility of an article as the author.

A simple Google search would have provided you with everything you needed.

Jason.. give your sources next time.. you obviously based your article in one way or another on the statement above, so why not include it in your article?


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By nace186 on 8/24/2009 12:48:36 PM , Rating: 4
You are missing the point. If I google search it, what's the point of reading from here?


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By The0ne on 8/24/2009 1:22:53 PM , Rating: 1
I love it when supposedly know-it-all's only answer is "Google it." My my my, Google must be the answer to all for these people. Here's it used as a case to support a poorly written blog/news article, without realizing that IF you as the reporter are going to inject your opinions into the subject then at least make it clear that it will and it is.

But yea, Google this too I guess. The new age of elites hahahahHAHHAHAHAHAAH


By omnicronx on 8/24/2009 1:40:33 PM , Rating: 2
If I am asking you Google it, I probably did it myself, thus I am not a know it all as I obviously did not know it beforehand. I am someone who actually checks into the facts provided. If I am interested in a topic, even a trusted source like NYtimes is not enough to form a true opinion, so yes, Google it, as more than likely you will get to the bottom of the question at hand.

Why you are going off on a tangent I'm not sure, I already said Jason should have listed his sources, as if he had done so, his article would have been far more credible as nothing he wrote is actually incorrect from my point of view.

That being said, as a reader it is your responsibility to check the facts if you do not believe them to be true. In the case of this article, he has not really injected his opinions, so it is not bad reporting in that respect, it is the lack of sources that is the problem.

Bottom line, if you don't want to fact check be prepared to get many incorrect facts along the way. No site, publication or newspaper is correct 100% of the time, and every single one injects their opinion in one way or another.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By Chocobollz on 8/24/2009 1:30:52 PM , Rating: 2
He might have missed the point but I think you're also missing the point. This is a chicken-or-egg problems; if you don't search it on other sources, then how'd you know if the articles is wrong or not? If you just read this site then I believe you should've trusted everything Jason have said LOL.


By omnicronx on 8/24/2009 1:47:00 PM , Rating: 2
Ya really, if you take everything DT writers post as God's word, the lack of sources should be your last concern.


By HinderedHindsight on 8/24/2009 12:50:03 PM , Rating: 2
While the response doesn't contain any form of the word "confuse" (or its derivatives), this doesn't necessarily remove the implication of confusion in the reason for rejection.

Consider the language contained in these two quotes:

quote:
The Google Voice application replaces Apple’s Visual Voicemail by routing calls through a separate Google Voice telephone number that stores any voicemail, preventing voicemail from being stored on the iPhone, i.e., disabling Apple’s Visual Voicemail. Similarly, SMS text messages are managed through the Google hub—replacing the iPhone’s text messaging feature.


and

quote:
We are continuing to study the Google Voice application and its potential impact on the iPhone user experience.


There's a distinct implication here that Apple doesn't want its user experience altered, one of the reasons is probably because they don't want to deal with support calls (if any result) from people not understanding how the app works. The implication of confusion is definitely there in spite of the fact that the word itself, nor its derivatives appear in the response.

The reason why the word "confusing" is not there is a marketing decision- apparently users don't like to be called confused (or anything that might be synonymous with ignorant.

What Mick has done here is read for content, so it can't be considered journalism.

Not that I'm trying to defend Mick's integrity, but this is not a journalistic site, and from what I can tell, it never was. While Anandtech has done reviews and news stories that contain statistics and fact, they almost always have derived opinions from the facts. You're at an editorial site. You don't like the editorials, you should probably move on.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By johnsonx on 8/24/2009 1:02:39 PM , Rating: 4
Everyone please note that when I made my comments the article headline and sub-headline both included "too confusing" in double-quotes. The author has now removed the quote-marks from the headline, and changed the sub-headline completely.

Further, other wording in the article that I was complaining about has been changed.

I appreciate the author for the changes made to the article, and find the article to be much improved.

No doubt, Mr. Mick is breathing easier now that I've accepted his revised article ;)


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By The0ne on 8/24/2009 1:24:03 PM , Rating: 2
/nod /nod


By TheRequiem on 8/24/2009 1:45:23 PM , Rating: 4
Not to defend Mick or anything, but I personally don't come here to analyze the journalists or as some would state, "Bloggers". Instead, it is an informative technology site that is quick to post the latest movements in media and news regarding technology and PC entertainment... that's what I come here for. Actually, the journalists here are very quick to find the information and post it, something A LOT of news outlets are less capable of.

Either way, I sift through the information and facts at hand and enjoy the writers commentary also in the process. Most people that visit a site like this are logical enough to understand the important facts and move on. I doubt very much anyone would be posting at Daily Tech for the hell of it... in fact, I am certain that the important facts of Apple's statement are present here. The only thing I find "confusing" is why people would rather talk less about the facts and spread gossip through the forums about irrelevant things.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By dome1234 on 8/24/2009 2:00:17 PM , Rating: 2
readers should also be given the choice of rating each article, say for example for ppl with average rating above certain number.


By Funksultan on 8/24/2009 2:59:18 PM , Rating: 2
Dear 8 pound, 6 ounce baby Jesus:

Please give this guy a 6.

He hit the nail squarely on the head, even though poking fun at Mick's "journalism" is tantamount to playing football against 8 year olds.


RE: only Mick said "too confusing"
By jonmcc33 on 8/24/09, Rating: 0
By celticbrewer on 8/26/2009 3:58:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Sure enough, the word "confusing" or any other form of "confuse" does not appear in the Apple statement. Yet Mick quotes Apple not once, but twice as saying "too confusing".


Here's the quote: "Apple expresses fears that its users wouldn't be able to understand Google Voice or use it properly"

'Wouldn't be able to understand' & 'confusing' mean pretty much the same thing, right?

Let's not pretend that Apple users are technologically gifted. They may use technology, but they * generally * don't understand it. You can thank Apple's fisher-price interface and locking its products down so that users can't tinker or learn anything worthwhile.


Really?
By KnightBreed on 8/24/2009 12:06:03 PM , Rating: 2
Does Apple expect people to buy that excuse? I mean, if it were too confusing people just wouldn't use it.




RE: Really?
By Murst on 8/24/2009 12:19:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Does Apple expect people to buy that excuse?

That doesn't matter. The excuse just has to be good enough so that it releases Apple from liability for anti-competetive behavior ( I realize that Apple hasn't formally been accused of this yet, but it might in the future ).

Stating that the decision was a subjective one, based on the UI of the app, makes it impossible to say that Apple "technically" did anything wrong. You could accuse them of poor design decisions, but that's not something that they will get fined over.


RE: Really?
By Tony Swash on 8/24/2009 12:24:10 PM , Rating: 2
As another poster here says - Apple never actually uses the words "Too confusing" which is presented in the article as a quote - shameful journalism.

Here is a sample of what Apple actually says:

"Contrary to published reports, Apple has not rejected the Google Voice application, and continues to study it. 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. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone.

For example, on an iPhone, the “Phone” icon that is always shown at the bottom of the Home Screen launches Apple’s mobile telephone application, providing access to Favorites, Recents, Contacts, a Keypad, and Visual Voicemail. The Google Voice application replaces Apple’s Visual Voicemail by routing calls through a separate Google Voice telephone number that stores any voicemail, preventing voicemail from being stored on the iPhone, i.e., disabling Apple’s Visual Voicemail. Similarly, SMS text messages are managed through the Google hub—replacing the iPhone’s text messaging feature.

In addition, the iPhone user’s entire Contacts database is transferred to Google’s servers, and we have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways. These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering at this time."


RE: Really?
By MrDiSante on 8/24/2009 12:42:38 PM , Rating: 2
This may very well be a first, but I do believe I have to side with Apple on this one. Programs should not fundamentally alter the... phone functionality of a phone.


RE: Really?
By Murst on 8/24/2009 3:11:38 PM , Rating: 2
It really depends on what you consider a "phone". Perhaps in the traditional sense, you are correct.

However, I look at a cell phone as something that simply passes data. That data can be voice, video, images, text, whatever.

Therefore, if I want to install an app on a phone that allows me to switch from one way of passing voice to another, then why can't I? Especially when it ends up saving me money.

Hopefully telecoms will soon realize that they're simply a data provider, instead of trying to artificially split up the exact same bits into different services. It doesn't really help when the cell phone makers such as Apple are helping them out though.


Two things
By ice456789 on 8/24/2009 12:37:48 PM , Rating: 4
1) Google Voice is fairly straight forward. If Apple thinks its customers would be 'confused' by Google Voice, what is Apple really saying about their customer base?

2) If people do find it too confusing, they are not forced to use it.

Apple could at least come up with excuses that don't insult their own customers' intelligence.




RE: Two things
By aapocketz on 8/24/2009 1:19:30 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know, I have started to use google voice, and sometimes its hard to explain to someone why I am using it. Its also something thats still pretty beta, you just cant go sign up for an account yet. Also people use google voice in different ways, some people forward their phone to google voice just for the voicemail, and there are tons of configuration settings. I see GV as melding a modern, internet skype type voice chat client with the established telephone network.

GV is not exactly rocket science, but I can see it being slightly confusing. Heck, my regular voice mail settings at work are pretty damn confusing!


RE: Two things
By omnicronx on 8/24/2009 3:46:01 PM , Rating: 2
I bet it is confusing though.. I use it for WinMo and developers are having a very hard time trying to get notifications and many other things working correctly to mimick the normal functions of the phone.

There could definitely be some problems especially with the 3.0 OS and its push notifications.

Of course you are probably right, this was not the main reason, but I will tell you its more confusing then one would think. To me this is not really a problem though, let the users decide whether or not they want to use it.

The fact that everything now passes through Google whom has no obligation to keep many of the aspects behind the app secret is what really scares me.

For example: I don't want Google using keywords from my text messages to use as keywords for my mobile searches, as they would most likely have your account info and the ips attached to it. At least Telcos are bound to much deeper privacy rules.


RE: Two things
By gstrickler on 8/24/2009 6:25:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
At least Telcos are bound to much deeper privacy rules.
Not that they're any good at keeping stuff private.


Yeah, it was confusing because...
By acase on 8/24/2009 12:03:28 PM , Rating: 2
they would all be saying, "Why the hell did I buy this phone?"




By DarkElfa on 8/24/2009 12:32:01 PM , Rating: 3
Well, Apple created its systems to be easily operated by even the most foolish consumer and as we all know, if you make something so easy even a fool could use it, only a fool will want to use it.


By SiliconAddict on 8/24/2009 6:18:33 PM , Rating: 3
Hey I'm just repeating what Apple is saying. Apparently the users of the iPhone are so stupid they can't figure out how to use a single screen app from a third party.




By Jonh68 on 8/24/2009 2:21:52 PM , Rating: 2
There is a difference between "confusing" the user and changing the functionality of the user interface.

When you change the functionality, then support questions come into play.




AT&T is mostly at fault
By akugami on 8/24/2009 2:46:14 PM , Rating: 2
http://tinyurl.com/n49se5

Engadget article above.

I think it's telling when you read the various responses that while AT&T technically may not have directly approved or disapproved certain apps they certainly have had an indirect hand on whether certain apps get approved.

What's most telling is Apple tries to back AT&T up but certain quotes says that AT&T does have an indirect hand on Apple's approval process.

Note that in response to Question 2 and Question 3 in Apple's response that Apple directly contradicts its own words on whether AT&T has a hand in the approval process.

quote:
...No contractual conditions or non-contractual understandings with AT&T have been a factor in Apple’s decision-making process in this matter...

...Apple alone makes the final decisions to approve or not approve iPhone applications.

There is a provision in Apple’s agreement 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. Apple honors this obligation, in addition to respecting AT&T’s customer Terms of Service, which, for example, prohibit an AT&T customer from using AT&T’s cellular service to redirect a TV signal to an iPhone...


Any apps that are traditionally bandwidth intensive or those that do VOIP because it robs AT&T of revenue since you don't waste minutes seems to AT&T's TOS and thus gets disapproved. Most of them are streaming apps or VOIP apps. Again, usually bandwidth intensive apps or those that may circumvent AT&T's talk time minute limits. Again, AT&T may have had zero direct input on the decisions but policies set forth by AT&T means Apple automatically has to disapprove the apps.

I'm not saying Apple is faultless and I know there is a large contingency that loves to hate on Apple but I think in this case, AT&T is the one truly at fault.




By nofumble62 on 8/26/2009 12:16:37 AM , Rating: 2
so they would be confused with GV and will not figure it out themselves.

Here you have it Apple fanboys.




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