The Airsource Blog

Google and iPhone - part II

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I just found another interesting article out there in the World Wild Web, over at Daring Fireball. Apparently, Google started publicizing the voice search feature some time before it actually reached the AppStore. The critical phrase in the NYTimes article is

"...Users of the free application, which Apple is expected to make available as soon as Friday through its iTunes store..."

which suggests, in Daring Fireball's analysis, that Google may have have pressured Apple to accept their application even though it violated the SDK agreement.

I don't buy that. A more realistic summary of the situation is that Google submitted the application in the expectation that:

a) it would be accepted without any problems, because the testing team at Apple were not sufficiently clued up to reject it, and

b) it would not subsequenly be pulled, because it was a really cool application.

With respect to a), there are several applications on the AppStore today that have taken the same approach. That doesn't make it right - indeed it somewhat dubious ethically - though it may be indicative of a certain amount of laissez faire with respect to following the SDK agreement. As for b), quality applications in widespread use absolutely should be left on the AppStore unless there is a compelling reason to remove them. New versions of the iPhone SDK are pre-released to developers, meaning that Google can simply release an updated version of the application which works on the new API. As I pointed out in my previous article, even if Google do not/cannot release such an update, the application will continue to work, albeit with reduced functionality. Even more importantly, Apple are pretty unlikely to change the API in any case. If there is a widely adopted application out there on the AppStore using an undocumented API, and Apple know about it, then Apple have made an implicit decision to support that API.

The real question we should be asking is not whether Google have acted unfairly in blazing a trail for the rest of us to follow - but whether Apple will act unfairly in preventing us from following that trail.