The three-way (un)love-triangle between Google, AT&T and Apple takes a new turn today. Regardless of which company is the stumbling block, a Google Voice client simply hasn’t made it to Apple’s iPhone. Some say the roadblock is AT&T, but that makes little sense when Google Voice […]


The three-way (un)love-triangle between Google, AT&T and Apple takes a new turn today. Regardless of which company is the stumbling block, a Google Voice client simply hasn’t made it to Apple’s iPhone. Some say the roadblock is AT&T, but that makes little sense when Google Voice for BlackBerry runs on AT&T devices. I’d say the issue lies more with Apple since Google Voice seamlessly integrates — takes over, to some degree — a handset’s contacts and phone functions. Thanks to the power of the web, Google makes the whole point moot — today Google Voice arrives as a web-based application.

As Om notes over at GigaOm, the app is built using HTML5 and works not only with the iPhone’s browser, but with Palm webOS devices as well. That’s a sweet deal because Google never got around to creating a webOS app for Google Voice. Some individual third-party developers gave it a go and to their credit, the Google Voice experience was almost perfect on a Palm Pre, based on my experience. In fact, I pegged Google Voice on a Pre to be a close second to the app on an Android unit last summer. I have to wonder what this move does to those third-party developers that put so much time and effort into their app.

Back to the nuts and bolts of the new Google Voice web app though — it shows the coming promise of HTML5 I’ve been waiting for. Using the AppCache feature means that users can still interact with the app, even without a web connection. Local database storage for web apps is going to play a big part in HTML5 apps — it has the potential to negate the “but you need a connection” argument that has plagued web-based apps for years. With that limitation all but gone, one has to wonder if anyone can block Google Voice from millions of iPhones now? I doubt it. And more importantly, will developers embrace HTML5 as an alternative to application stores that take a cut of their efforts? Looks like phase two of the app wars is just getting started.

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  1. Google Voice is nice but I am too busy thinking about Christmas PART 2, which arrives tomorrow. I am sure I will not get any sleep tonight and tomorrow morning will drag on forever. But when Santa Steve delivers the goods all will be right again. Ahhhhhhh Yes! It’s going to be a wonderful Wednesday.

    P.S. I wish my Tivo had already recorded today (Tuesday) and could just FastForward to Wednesday Morning to the time when Mr. Jobs takes the stage!

  2. I think Steve Jobs was actually a visionary when he wanted web apps on the iPhone before the plethora of junk on the device now. It was an unexpected blessing how much money it ended up generating for Apple, but if all developers went the web app route, then creating apps for other platforms would be much easier to port, since you’d only have to code for the UI, and not the functionality.

  3. Kevin, have you actually used the GV web app? It’s a horrible kludge. It’s sort of ok for outbound phone calls, but inbound calls just end up on your cell, and SMS is a complete disaster. I’m not terribly impressed. Yes, it gives you a sort of gateway to GV, but it can’t take the place of an app that can more seamless interact with the device.

    1. Chris, I haven’t used it yet. I actually wrote my post before the app hit my iPhone, which is why I used a stock photo instead one from my device. When it hit the URL, I had the old interface. I’ll definitely take a look when I get a chance. I have to wonder how much of the “kludge” you’ve seen is due to Apple not allowing programmatical access to native functions of the phone and messaging app and how much is due to the HTML5 implementation.

      1. I’ll be curious to hear your comments, Kevin. It’s better than nothing, obviously, and for dealing with stuff that’s already in GV, it’s not bad. Just not good interaction with the iPhone.

        I can understand why Apple doesn’t want to allow this, but I think they have the potential to lose a lot of customers if they can’t find a way to let us Google folks interact with our accounts. Either that, or make MobileMe actually useful in a way similar to what GV is doing. Although I’m not sure I could give up the Gmail interface.

        As for who’s fault, I have to imagine AT&T has some hand in this, as they have the most to lose. Apple could handle having to abandon the subsidy model, I suspect. If I could get an unlocked iPhone, with a data only plan, and then use a well integrated GV on top, that sounds pretty good.

  4. Chris, this interface is completely different. I’m a heavy user of Google Voice on a few different platforms and am looking forward to this going live. I haven’t been able to access the new mobile site from an iPhone or Pre yet, but I’m very much looking forward to it.

    1. Joe – what do you mean the interface is completely different? I’m describing the interface that I thought was available today?

  5. >Regardless of which company is the stumbling block,

    Please. That question was settled long ago – it’s apple.

  6. Peccato che questa rovina l’esperienza per gli utenti di iPod touch, perché per effettuare chiamate in uscita, è necessario selezionare “tuo” numero di telefono. Il mio dispositivo non è un telefono cellulare, e il numero che voglio usare per le chiamate in uscita non è coerente (dipende da dove sto AT).

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