Google admits that its iPhone voice search breaks Apple's rules

A Google spokesperson confirmed to BetaNews today that the company's new voice search for iPhone violates the terms of Apple's SDK. But questions still linger around why the updated Google Mobile app still appears on Apple's App Store.

Apple's App Store might have rejected some smaller developers' applications for less, but Google confirmed to BetaNews late Wednesday that its newly updated Google Mobile app uses undocumented APIs in conducting voice searches.

Specifically, the undocumented APIs are used to access the iPhone's proximity sensor, a capability which ordinarily dims the screen when you hold the phone near your face.

In discussions in online forums, developers have pointed out that the iPhone SDK does not include an API for the proximity sensor, a feature added for the iPhone 3G. However, under the terms of the iPhone SDK, developers are required to use only APIs supplied in the developers kit.

Some developers have also suggested that Google Mobile might be linking to some sort of private or dynamic framework. But the Google spokesperson denied that charge to BetaNews.

Why did Google flout Apple's rules? The spokesperson indicated that the reason revolved around getting an "innovative and useful application" out to users as quickly as possible.

That theory seems to make sense, especially in light of how Google announced the Mobile app. As previously reported in BetaNews, Google used yet another blog post to announce the voice search capability on Thursday, November 14, implying in an accompanying video that the feature was already downloadable from the App Store, when in fact, it wasn't.

A subsequent article in The New York Times, in which reporter John Markoff said the capability could be available "as soon as Friday" -- sparked rumors that the voice search function would actually become downloadable as of November 15. But after a lot of industry speculation that weekend about the factors behind the supposed "delay," some of those closely watching the App Store managed to download the updated mobile app starting on the night of Monday, November 18.

A bigger mystery surrounds why Apple even admitted the updated Google Mobile into its App Store, a question that can't begin to be answered right now with Apple spokespersons temporarily unavailable at press time. Was Apple aware that the Google Mobile update uses undocumented APIs? If not, did it decide to just let Google solve some development challenges for Apple?

Alternatively, did Google's blog-based promotion for voice search spur so much download demand that the App Store simply opted to look the other way?

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