Apple has relented after 16 months of dogged resistance to keep Google Voice app out of its Apps Store. Now the exiled app is here and available for iPhone users.
Apple had barred Google Voice App and other apps that incorporated Google Voice functionality like GVDialer and VoiceCentral from its App Store in 2009, a fallout of Apple's strict vigilance over its store.
Apple had stated that the app was grounded because 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.
It was also surmised that Apple had consorted with AT&T to banish the apps, though Apple had denied the charge. However, at FCC's intervention Apple had stated that it had not completely rejected the app but had suspended the Google Voice app for further scrutiny.
This September Apple opened the gates for Google Voice and it's now available for free for iPhone's running on iOS 3.1 or later. The native app grants users access to all Google Voice features like voicemail transcription, cheap international calls and free text messaging to US numbers and displays Google Voice number as caller ID when making calls.
Apple's decision to allow Google Voice is reflective of its efforts to ease control over App Store. It has also been involved in a spat with Adobe as it has barred Flash-based apps on iPhone.
The sudden turnaround in Apple's approach could be due to Android's march and a host of other competing smartphones based on Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry OS and webOS. With Google Voice available on Android and BlackBerry, Apple needed to cede control over its App Store.
With Android Market now boasting more than 100,000 apps, which though less compared to Apple's 250,000 apps, have grown drastically from 50,000 apps in April. Also with Windows Phone 7 fighting for space with its host of existing developers for Xbox games, Apple has a lot to contend with.
Until now placing apps in Apple's App Store was the benchmark for developers, as most of the apps which became successful on the App Store were then replicated for other platforms. However, with Android now sporting killer apps and games, like Google Voice, Apple cannot keep a tight hand over its store.
Apple's App Store scores over Android Market as it provides a more coherent structure for trading apps unlike Android Market which is beset with marketing problems for developers. Apple's management of the store avails developers' ease of testing and marketing their wares, the onus of which falls on them individually in the Android market.
Though now with apps increasingly becoming a key criterion in choosing a smartphone, Apple has to let loose its grip and allow apps which are successful on other OS. Thus preference of what runs on iPhone, a Flash app or Google's app, will no longer be dependent on Apple's whims but will be subject to demand-supply dynamics of apps.
Apple's acceptance of Google Voice and its recent acceptance of an app by Skyfire that translates Adobe flash code into HTML speaks of Apple's slow but imminent conversion towards an open approach regarding its app store.