Hey Apple: Where's the Google Plus iPhone app already?

By JR Raphael (@jr_raphael)

Google Plus iPhone App

Google's new Google Plus service is making quite the wave in the tech world right now. For users of Apple's iPhone, however, there's one significant minus to the Google Plus experience.

Apple, you see, has yet to approve the Google Plus application for its iOS platform. Sure, iPhone users can still surf to the G+ website to sign in and keep up, but the Web-based experience is bush-league compared to the graphical app and its robust set of features (like group chat, automatic photo uploading, and integrated background notifications).

Here's what's most baffling about this: It's been about two weeks -- maybe even longer -- since Google finished the Google Plus iPhone app and submitted it to Apple's approval squad. How do we know? A Google employee posted a note (on Google Plus, of course) stating the following on July 4:

For my iPhone using friends: the Google+ iPhone app has been submitted to the App store (no not today, sometime prior to today) and is awaiting approval.

Google Plus iPhone

Image courtesy TheNextWeb.comAnother Googler showed the app in action a couple days later. Given the holiday weekend, it seems safe to surmise that the official submission happened somewhere around July 1, if not earlier. And yet, in the time that's passed since then, Apple has been unable to deem the app worthy of a spot in its prestigious App Store. Seriously, Apple?

We all know about Apple's joke-inspiring policy of app approval and rejection. Let's face it: The satirical likening of Apple to a communist regime doesn't always seem so far-fetched. But we're talking about an app made by Google here, for Jobs' sake. Does anyone really believe there's a legitimate reason for Apple to be keeping it off its iOS platform?

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Apple's played these kind of games plenty of times before. In the past, the company's approval committee has "protected" iPhone users from such dangerous creations as Google Voice, Google Latitude, and Sony's e-reader application (oh my!). Anyone who thinks Apple's restrictive approach is about its users is kidding themselves; the company's business interests are clearly the cause behind countless app rejections.

So what's up in this instance? I can see a few likely explanations for Apple's foot-dragging on the Google Plus iPhone app approval:

  • The turtleneck-loving team could be taking its time pulling the trigger just because it can (hey, why help Google out with a potentially lucrative new service?).

  • Jobs and co. might have a problem with some of the Google Plus app features, like group chatting and seamless photo sharing; those are vaguely similar to features offered in Apple's magical and revolutionary new iOS 5, and God forbid anyone create anything that might offer an alternative to a stock iPhone feature.

  • The Google Plus app could just be stuck in the queue like every other iOS-submitted application; maybe this is merely a demonstration of the standard treatment and inspection delay.

However you look at it, it's hard not to see this as a failure of Apple's app approval process. And Google isn't the only high-profile example. Just this week, WhitePages announced it was launching its new Localicious app on Android first due to its growing frustrations with Apple's approach. The company's previous smartphone app -- a reverse phone look-up directory -- has apparently been awaiting Apple approval for two full months now.

"I think we are going to see a lot of people start to ship Android first," WhitePages COO Kevin Nakao told AllThingsD. "You can't be held hostage."

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I know Apple's all about control, but this is just getting ridiculous. There's no justifiable reason for iPhone users to still be waiting for the Google Plus app two weeks after its submission, and there's certainly no reason for a WhitePages-made directory tool to be stuck in limbo for two months and counting. 

Come on, Apple -- enough's enough. Get over yourself and put your users' interests first. It'll be magical...I promise.

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

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