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US FCC to investigate Apple after rejecting Google Voice app

Apple rejected Google's Voice app, and culled its App Store of related programs. Now the US FCC wants to know what Apple's rules are... and so do we

How are iPhone applications approved by Apple for its App Store? Wouldn't you like to know!

Although the ability to install apps is one of the iPhone's greatest strengths, the Apple App Store's mysterious approval process has led some app developers to fantasise about smashing it into millions of overpriced plastic pieces.

Last week, Apple rejected Google's app for its Internet telephony thingy, Google Voice. Not only that, but it then swept through the App Store removing previously approved third-party apps that used Google Voice.

We can't get Google Voice here in the UK yet anyway, and Apple has every right to reject apps from its store, but we sympathise with the developers who spend all that time knitting an app just to have it denied in a process that's about as open as the Spanish Inquistion. After all, we want our Spotify app.

Check out the blog of the developers of VoiceCentral -- one of the apps that was canned -- to read just how psychotically secretive Apple was about why its app was removed from the App Store.

So, we're thrilled to see the Wall Street Journal report that stomping on the Goog has awakened the beast of the FCC, the American telecommunications regulator.

The FCC has launched an inquiry into how the heck Apple chooses what apps to let into the App Store -- and whether it's colluding with AT&T, the iPhone's American home, to crush competition.

The FCC wants to know (PDF) how Apple decides to let an app in, and wants details: it's asking, "What are the standards for considering and approving iPhone applications?" and "What is the approval process for such applications (timing, reasons for rejection, appeal process, etc)?"

Hopefully we'll hear proper answers to those chestnuts, although Apple can apply for its responses to be kept confidential. In the meantime, there's always the wild open spaces of Cydia, the unofficial app store for jailbroken iPhones.