Apple can ban all the apps they want, but that apparently won’t stop Google from giving iPhone customers access to Google Voice. As of this morning, iPhone owners can now point mobile Safari at a Google Voice website to gain access to a much more full-featured version of the telephone replacement service.
A mobile browser-based version of Google Voice already existed, but the new one is much more properly a web app than before, and is aimed squarely at providing a better Voice experience to users of Apple’s iPhone. Apple has staunchly refused to allow Google Voice dedicated apps into the App Store, despite earlier claims that Google’s own app had not been rejected, but was merely undergoing review.
That was in July. At this point, it’s fairly obvious that Apple doesn’t want the service on its device, and it’s looking more and more like AT&T isn’t even behind that particular decision, at least not completely. Apple and Google have been in the process of parting ways for quite some time now, as competition between the two industry leaders grows.
Short of reducing the capabilities of the iPhone’s mobile Safari browser, or actively blocking web-based content on the device, there’s little Apple can do to stop iPhone users from being able to access the new app. The app now shows transcribed calls in your inbox, and allows you to play them back. You can dial using a virtual keypad, and make either voice calls or send SMS that way. Google routes the call through your iPhone’s number first as a local connection, and people receiving the call will see your Google Voice number on their call display. Finally, you’ll receive notifications of new voicemail via SMS, including transcriptions of the calls.
There are a few things that the app cannot do, despite using the fancy magic of HTML5 for greater degrees of interactivity. It can’t pull from your iPhone’s contact list, as the original dedicated app could, but instead it provides contact management through a Google Voice address book that is cloud-based and can be accessed from whatever platform you happen to be using.
To access the new Google Voice web app, point your browser to http://m.google.com/voice. Due to Google Voice not yet being available in Canada, I haven’t been able to run this new web app through its paces yet, so chime in and let us know how it performs. Those of you who are using Voice might already be depending on VoiceCentral’s browser based solution for the iPhone. If so, let us know how the two services compare.
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