After over a year in limbo, Apple (s aapl) has reportedly approved Google’s Voice (s goog) application for the iTunes App Store, indicating that the iPhone may finally see the popular software, says TechCrunch. Initial thoughts for the rejection last year were based on AT&T’s involvement, but Google Voice is available for AT&T (s t) devices on other platforms, such as those running on the BlackBerry (s rimm) and Android operating systems. It later became clear that Apple held up Google Voice since it replicates native features on the iPhone. Now that Apple has loosened developer restrictions for iOS devices, Google’s app could find its way to iOS devices once Google updates it to support multitasking for iOS 4.
If you’re not familiar with Google Voice, I highly recommend you take a closer look at the software. Essentially, it can be used to route incoming calls to multiple handsets, landlines or VoIP services. You can even schedule which of your phones are active at certain times, so it’s possible to have your personal phone ring after work hours and just keep the business phone active during the day. Google Voice can also act as your voicemail service, providing speech-to-text translation of messages, which you can receive via email. Even better are the free text messages that can be sent through Google Voice on a handset or in a web browser, and low-cost international calls. All in all, Google Voice is a masterful method to manage communications.
Indeed, I found the service so appealing that it became part of my decision to switch from an iPhone 3GS to a Google Nexus One at the beginning of this year. A few others in my circle of peers used the same criteria and also left the iPhone behind, although there were other factors involved, such as Apple’s control over the ecosystem, coverage issues with AT&T and better Gmail integration in Android. But mainstream consumers aren’t likely to see Google Voice as a “killer app” like I have, so I doubt that Android users will be swayed back to an iPhone once Google Voice appears in the iTunes App Store.
Although it’s easy to think of the iPhone when talking about Google Voice, there’s a place for the software on the iPod touch and iPad devices as well. Google Voice currently isn’t a voice over IP service, so calls are handled by cellular networks. However, I’ve routed incoming cellular calls to my Skype number in the past, allowing me to receive calls on a non-cellular device. It’s not uncommon for me to reply to or send text messages on the Google Voice website from my iPad, so having such functionality in a handy app that runs in the background would be welcome.
Now that the Google Voice for iOS brouhaha appears to be closing down, all we need is for Google to add video calls to the service. I doubt Google would use Apple’s FaceTime method for such a feature, which is sure to start another ruckus on our handsets!
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