Like Kobe Bryant driving through the lane, the developers at Google Inc. (GOOG) have dodged the defenders at Apple (AAPL) to produce a Web app that functions like Google Voice on the iPhone – several months after Apple and AT&T (T) effectively banned the popular voice, call management and text message service from the device.
According to product manager Marcus Foster David Singleton, an engineering manager at Google, writing on the Google Mobile blog, “Delivering Google services via mobile browsers has worked well for the Gmail team, so we decided to follow the same approach with Google Voice.”
That’s a disingenuous bit of reasoning, of course: Google specifically followed this approach to get around the fact that Google Voice – which gives users a single phone number that rings through to multiple devices, plus advanced call control and messaging features along with free SMS and heavily discounted international calls – has been effectively disallowed on the world’s hottest smartphone. It’s probably no coincidence, either, that Google put out the new Web app the day before Steve Jobs debuted the highly anticipated iPad in San Francisco.
Using HTML5 to make the experience as much like a native application as possible, the Google Voice app gives callers most of the functions of the original version, including the ability to have the user’s Google Voice number appear on caller ID displays. To make a call, the user first dials a local Google Voice number, which then rings through to the receiving number. The interface also offers one-tap access to the Inbox, with voice mail messages and text messages, a virtual dial pad, a contacts list, and a text-message screen plus options and settings.
What you don’t get are free VoIP calls; calls made through the Google Voice app on the iPhone are still charged to your cellular calling plan.