This article originally appeared in TidBITS on 2010-11-16 at 12:32 p.m.
The permanent URL for this article is: http://tidbits.com/article/11757
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Google Voice App Appears at Long Last

by Glenn Fleishman

Google Voice [1] is now a real boy. The 15-month-plus period in which Apple maintained that the app was in a Schrödinger cat box—neither accepted nor rejected—has finally resulted in the free app becoming available. Apple and AT&T both changed policies about calling apps, whether they use voice-over-IP or rely on built-in cell calling systems. (See “Apple Responds to FCC’s App Store Questions [2],” 21 August 2009.)

[image link] [3]

For the last year, Google Voice has been available through an HTML5-compliant Web app [4], but one that couldn’t match the precise set of capabilities and utility of a standalone app, including dealing with background incoming calls, push notifications, and the like.

Since Apple held up allowing (or rejecting) Google Voice, Skype [5], Line2 [6], and Vonage [7], among others, have been approved. All three programs use VoIP to place calls over 3G and Wi-Fi. (Vonage switches to your regular calling service for domestic U.S. calls when you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network.)

Google Voice, however, doesn’t use VoIP at all. Instead, it relies on your cell voice plan, using call-around numbers to place your U.S. and international calls, and to handle incoming calls. Google Voice is more of a management hub for phone calls, voicemail, and messaging than a calling service, even though it offers decent outside-the-U.S. per-minute rates. For more details on Google Voice’s offerings, see “Google Voice Opens to All Americans [8],” 22 June 2010.

Google embedded a nifty joke—or, at least, I think it’s a joke—in the screenshots that currently appear in the iTunes Store listing. Note that the topmost message shown in the Inbox screenshot is from 6 July 2009, about the time the app was initially submitted to Apple and placed in purgatory.

[image link] [9]

[1]: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-voice/id318698524?mt=8&at=10l5PW
[2]: http://db.tidbits.com/article/10497
[3]: http://db.tidbits.com/resources/2010-11/google_voice_main_screen.jpg
[4]: http://www.google.com/mobile/voice/
[5]: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/skype/id304878510?mt=8&at=10l5PW
[6]: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/line2-2-numbers-1-iphone/id319185557?mt=8&at=10l5PW
[7]: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vonage-mobile-for-iphone/id331814922?mt=8&at=10l5PW
[8]: http://db.tidbits.com/article/11374
[9]: http://db.tidbits.com/resources/2010-11/google_voice_joke_in_itunes.jpg