Google Voice, iPhone finally get along – but without Apple's blessings

Google Voice: iPhone version cuts out App Store in favor of an Web-browser approach.

San Jose Mercury News/Newscom
Google Voice, iPhone edition. Good for iPhone users, bad for Apple?
YouTube screen shot
Google Voice for iPhone.

Ever-clever Google just sailed around the Apple blockade.

Today, the company released a version of its Google Voice app designed for iPhone – but without Apple's blessings. This new program circumvents the popular App Store altogether and instead works through the smart phone's Web browser.

Last July, Apple and AT&T shoved Google Voice out of its App Store. The program would have allowed iPhone owners to dial people, send texts, receive calls, and listen to voicemail through a unified Google Voice phone number – one that connects their home phone, office line, computers, and probably a toaster if they tried hard enough. One phone number to rule them all.

Apple and AT&T rejected the iPhone version (though no one is sure which company blackballed the app), saying it was superfluous. It duplicated features the iPhone already offers, they argued. Google Voice fans disagreed and threw a fit online.

It seems Google has been busy in the months following. It developed a Web version of the software that any HTML 5 browser can access. That means Palm OS phones (Pre, Pixi, Pre Plus, and Pixi Plus) can take advantage as well.

"For quick access to the most important features like 'Dialer', 'Compose SMS', 'Inbox' or 'Contacts,' you can add shortcuts to your iPhone home screen or Palm Launcher -- so cheap calls and messaging will be just a single click away," says the official Google Mobile Blog. "And because the Google Voice web app uses advanced features of modern HTML5 browsers, it offers native app-like performance and speed."

Check out the video below for more information and screen shots.

It will be interesting to look back years from now and see if Google's end run marked the decline of the Apple App Store. Some disgruntled iPhone developers have already cut ties with Apple's online marketplace and its fickle gatekeepers. A lot of money (or at least time) goes into programming a good phone app; and all that upfront investment comes with the risk of Apple killing the finished project before anyone can enjoy it. Maybe more fed-up programmers will follow Google's lead and abandon the App Store. Analysts theorize that's why Apple has not allowed Flash on the iPhone – developers would have less reason to work within Apple's system.


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