Apple Drags Its Feet on Innovative Phone App

Among the more interesting things I’ve come across so far at Macworld is an innovative calling application from FreedomVoice Systems, called Newber. Somewhat similar, but with a couple of key differences to Grand Central, Newber lets you route every phone call made to you though a single number and, using GPS location awareness, lets you take the call on any phone that happens to be nearby.

If you’re in the office at your desk, Newber will send calls to your work phone. At home it can ring the house phone. On the road Newber will ring your iPhone, the phone extension in your hotel room, even the payphone at the gas station in the middle of nowhere where you’re getting a flat fixed – if that’s where you want it to ring. Your callers have one number for you and you can receive their calls anywhere.

I saw the app in a demo at a press event on Monday night and spoke further yesterday with David Gerzof, president of Bigfish Communications, the PR firm repesenting Newber, about the difficulty FreedomVoice has had getting the Newber app approved for distribution in the AppStore. “We submitted it in October and Apple authorized our product manager to contact them by phone, which he does every day,” Gerzof told me. “They haven’t said it will be approved or that it won’t be approved, in fact we can’t see from our activity logs where they have even begun testing it. It’s very frustrating.”

As a result, despite having already put several hundred thousand dollars into developing the platform for iPhone, Gerzof and Newber aren’t putting all their eggs in Apple’s basket. A Demo application for Blackberry is already operating and the company is also working on one for Android. “We love Apple and began work first with the iPhone SDK because we wanted it to be the launch platform, but if they aren’t interested, we have to move forward with the others,” Gerzof says.


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