Apple approves official Google Voice app?

Taking a quick trip down memory lane, one may recall the fuss Apple caused last July when they rejected Google's official Google Voice app because it "duplicated existing [iPhone] functionality." This left Googlers distraught. There seemed to be nothing but darkness ahead.

Fast-forward a little over a year where Apple begins changing some of its rules. As part of their new app submission guidelines, they made it very clear that they'd no longer approve apps made with tools like Adobe Air. This rule was later repealed. The overhaul of the the App Store submission bible, however, seemed to change the game for Google, as the new guidelines no longer seemed to be an issue for a Google Voice app. Since then, many third-party Google Voice apps have been accepted into the market. However, nothing official came from Mountain View.

According to TechCrunch, all of that's about to change. It has been reported that within the next few weeks, an official Google Voice app will be made available in the App Store. Having already been approved, TechCrunch claims that all Google has to do is adjust the app for iOS's new multitasking capabilities and it will be good to go. This is very exciting news for the iPhone community, as Google Voice empowers users with near-complete control over their phone numbers.

It's unclear which functionality will be baked into Google's official app. The Android version of Google Voice allows users to manage their voicemail through an inbox, send and receive text messages, automatically use it to place various types of calls (international only, for example), and much more. Should the iOS version contain similar functionality, rest assured, iPhone users will be ecstatic.

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18 Comments

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Google Voice is great for certain situations. It's a way for Verizon users to essentially have free visual voicemail (why does vzn charge for that anyway?), it's a way to have unlimited text messages for anyone, uh, not on Sprint, and um...that's about it.

I used GV from January until two days ago. I had officially grown tired of it and the basic features it lacked, and the extra work you had to put into keeping tabs on your records. GV does not support MMS in any capacity, meaning you either have to train your contacts to keep two numbers on hand for you, or use email for attachments (this is something iPhone users suffered for a short time, insisted it was no big deal, but now generally admit that they prefer having the feature over otherwise).

I grew tired of the ENORMOUS amount of effort you had to put into deleting your call records. You can only delete 10 items at a time, and then you have to delete them AGAIN (10 at a time). The note that items in the trash are cleared out after 30 days is actually a flat out lie, and Google is inviting a lawsuit some day for it if they don't get off their butts on this one. I have nothing against data mining, but I do have a problem with misrepresenting yourself so egregiously.

There are other complaints to be made (asking which number to use for every call, is one--disabling this means committing to GV as your call provider, or reducing it to visual voicemail only). I'm very, very eager to use it again once these issues are addressed. Enabling MMS and a simple 'Empty Trash' feature would probably drag me right back in. Otherwise, I guess those are my dealbreakers. Meh.

I've been using Google Voice for a couple of months now for the free SMS. For awhile I was just using the Mail app as the interface. It was functional...non-ideal...but functional. Beats paying AT&T $20/month for unlimited texting and I liked how I could send texts from my computer (which was better for me than that TextFree app).

Now that Google Voice apps are available, I've been enjoying GV Mobile+. There is still room for improvement. Right now I have Prowl setup to receive PUSH notifications from the VoiceGrowl service (Google Voice->Growl/Prowl). And Prowl is setup to open GV Mobile+ when I click the "VIEW" button on the Push notification window. Works well, but GV Mobile+ will only refresh the messages if I switch screens. Not that big of a problem unless the message was longer than the push notification window... otherwise I just start typing for my reply.

Nico C said,

I have to disagree - if you look at the features, it's basically the same thing. Also, if GV doesn't use VoIP, how would they do it then?? The FNB Connect solution also has a browser based version (https://www.fnbconnect.co.za/index_tikki_box.shtml) and again, in essence, it's the same type of concept that Google has.

The GV app in itself would call the number in question then call the cell phone itself to link the two. It would be no different than if you called the number directly but it can also potentially make it cheaper for international calls though.

Recon415 said,
Now we can have phones in our phones!

Except the VoIP calls can use Wifi saving your minutes for when that isn't available. Blackberries have an ability to jump between Wifi and Cell for calls on demand.

Will this give users on a iPod/iPad the ability to make phone calls?

Looks like the UN and DoJ have really laid into Apple if they are making big concessions like this and their opening up of the dev tools as well as other recent 3rd party apps getting through that were banned. Not fart apps mind you...

+1

Also, Android is a huge competitor and they seem to be adding features at lightning speeds. It really is starting to make the iPhone look crippled. And I'm an iPhone user, btw

ccoltmanm said,
Will this give users on a iPod/iPad the ability to make phone calls?

Looks like the UN and DoJ have really laid into Apple if they are making big concessions like this and their opening up of the dev tools as well as other recent 3rd party apps getting through that were banned. Not fart apps mind you...

It might once Google enables their VoIP features in their App like they have on GMail... but don't hold your breath. Can't you make phone calls with Skype currently?

ccoltmanm said,
Will this give users on a iPod/iPad the ability to make phone calls?
Currently, all GV does is connect a call between whatever number you dial and the number you want to call from. I'm sure VoIP is in the cards, though.

Elliott said,
Currently, all GV does is connect a call between whatever number you dial and the number you want to call from. I'm sure VoIP is in the cards, though.

They added VoIP features when they integrated GV with GMail.

Elliott said,
Currently, all GV does is connect a call between whatever number you dial and the number you want to call from. I'm sure VoIP is in the cards, though.

If you have GV and you make a call from Gmail the call shows as coming from your GV number. The ability to add VoIP to the GV app would be trivial.

I don't think the app can automatically take over for certain call types (nothing in the iOS SDK allows for that), but all the other features should be there.