Full Google Voice calling iPhone at last

Nov 17, 2010
Tech

iPhone owners finally can use a Google Voice phone number to make calls and send text messages. A Google number even can be used as a caller ID. Peace in our time? Who knows? At least, Apple (AAPL) at last, after keeping rival Google’s (GOOG) Google Voice app caged for 17 months, cleared the native […]

iPhone owners finally can use a Google Voice phone number to make calls and send text messages. A Google number even can be used as a caller ID.

Peace in our time? Who knows?

At least, Apple (AAPL) at last, after keeping rival Google’s (GOOG) Google Voice app caged for 17 months, cleared the native GV app Tuesday to be made available for free from the App Store.

Bits blogger Nick Bilton in the New York Times noted that the “soap opera” has ended. “The service is especially beneficial to people who use the Google Voice service in a web browser, making it simple to bounce between a desktop and mobile phone, and have communications remain in the cloud,” he said.

Google first submitted its app to Apple in June 2009. But Apple gave Google the cold shoulder. In fact, it froze Google Voice out by removing all apps relating to Google Voice soon after the Federal Communications Commission inquired about the dispute.

Apple claimed that Google Voice duplicated services already available for iPhone. Google made a pitch for open systems.

There’s no real explanation of what changed Apple’s mind.

“The Google Voice app was resubmitted, reviewed and approved and it now joins the more than 300,000 apps currently available on the App Store,” an Apple spokeswoman said.

Google had responded to the block by offering a limited version for iPhone users from a website, but said the web version was not full-featured the way an approved native app would be.

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The “Google Voice experience on the iPhone [is moving] to a whole new level with the launch of the official Google Voice for iPhone app,” Google software engineer Christian Brunschen noted at Google Mobile Blog.

Brunschen said all major Google Voice features are now available on iPhones:

  • Cheap rates for international calls
  • Free text messaging to U.S. numbers
  • Voicemail transcription
  • Display your Google Voice number as caller ID when making calls

Brunschen said the app provides some features that make using Google Voice on your iPhone a much better experience:

  • With push notifications, the app will alert you instantly when you receive a new voicemail or text message
  • Most of your calls will be placed via Direct Access Numbers, making them connect just as quickly as regular phone calls

Jessica Dolcourt at CNET put the new app through its paces and gave the GV app a mixed review saying it got more right than wrong: “Considering it took a year and a half of idle time and an FCC investigation to gain Apple’s approval, we’re also wondering why the Google Voice engineering team couldn’t have designed a more seamless integration with the iPhone.”

Could Apple be opening up its ecosystem in other ways?

Mark Millan at CNN noted: “With the Voice app finally available, Apple may be lowering the barrier on the types of software it will allow in its store, and at the same time smoothing its competitive relationship with Google.”

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