Google Voice Lands on iPhone and Palm as a Web App


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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