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 “ ,” 21 August 2009.)
For the last year, Google Voice has been available through an, 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,, , and , 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 “,” 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.