Apple has refused to sell the Google’s much-anticipated Google Voice app through its App Store, while also removing existing apps which use the service, reports claim.

Google had sent Google Voice to Apple for approval for sale through the App Store, but it was rejected. Independent GV Mobile app developer, Sean Kovacs, also saw his app removed from the App Store, with Apple saying his software duplicates features the iPhone ships with.

Google built similar apps for BlackBerry and Android, while independent developers also ported the service to the iPhone, with apps including GV Mobile and VoiceCentral made available for a few months. These apps have now been withdrawn from the store.

A Google spokesperson told TechCrunch: “We work hard to bring Google applications to a number of mobile platforms, including the iPhone. Apple did not approve the Google Voice application we submitted six weeks ago to the Apple App Store. We will continue to work to bring our services to iPhone users for example, by taking advantage of advances in mobile browsers.”

Speculation now suggests AT&T may have been behind the move to ban Google Voice. It’s thought the carrier may have felt threatened by the app, which among other features lets users send free SMS messages and make cheap calls using Google’s own number.

Adding insult to injury, independently-developed GV Mobile was apparently, “personally approved last April by Phil Schiller”, Apple’s top marketing guy.

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