Google Voice on the iPhone–Finally!

By  |  Tuesday, January 26, 2010 at 8:48 am

Apple may still officially be “pondering” whether it should approve Google’s Google Voice app for iPhone,  but there’s finally good news: Google has released an entirely Web-based version of the service (at m.google.com/voice). It works on the iPhone as well as Palm’s Pre and Pixi handsets, and brings a large chunk of the functionality of the native Voice apps for Android and BlackBerry to your phone’s browser.

This new version, like mobile Gmail, is among the most app-like browser services I’ve ever seen, period, letting you dial from your Google contacts list or a keypad, read and listen to messages, send text messages, and configure the app right within mobile Safari. When you make calls using it, the person who answers sees your Google Voice number, not the “real” one associated with your phone: Google makes an outgoing call from the iPhone, then reroutes it over a line of its own.

There’s only so far that a Web-based telephony app can go. On Android and BlackBerry, Google Voice can insert itself as your default phone interface, and it gets access to the contacts stored on your phone. On the iPhone, it stays a secondary interface and can’t see your local contacts. (You can, however, use Google Sync to sync your phone’s contacts with your Google Account.) When you make an outgoing call, your iPhone confirms you want to do so and shows Google’s routing number rather than the one you’re really calling–kind of confusing. And while the interface for wrangling messages is a vast improvement on the rudimentary one in the old Web-based Google Voice, it still send you out of Safari and into QuickTime when you want to listen to a message.

In short, the new Web-based Google Voice is impressive–but it doesn’t eliminate the value that a true native Google Voice for iPhone might bring. I’m gloomily assuming that its arrive eliminates whatever remaining chance there was that Apple might approve the app, unless the FCC decides to weigh in further. But I’m also relieved that around 80% of the Google Voice experience–just to pick a number at random–has landed on my iPhone.

Here’s a video Google produced about the new version. A few screens after the jump.

 
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10 Comments For This Post

  1. pcd2k Says:

    I'm imagining that this my never happen for Australians ?

  2. Mark Says:

    Nice!

    Now bring it the UK damnit!

  3. heulenwolf Says:

    What about we cheap non-smartphone users? I’d love to use this interface on my iPod Touch to send and receive free texts and initiate calls over WiFi. It assumes its operating on a phone, however, and won’t let me initiate a call to my cell like the normal web interface does. Oh well, its still pretty slick for their first run.

  4. Roberta Says:

    this does NOT work on the iPod touch which is huge bummer. It worked on the iPod touch (via wifi) with the original app which apple killed. Then when I found a work around using the Google mobile web app, it was back to working, but this new app requires the iPhone to dial to make the connection which of course the iPod touch doesn’t do. So once again, it’s broken for the iPod touch and we ipod touch users are not thrilled (as evidenced by all the complaints that I have seen on the web today)

  5. heulenwolf Says:

    I guess the price of admission is $720 = 24 mo x $30/mo in contract data plan fees. Oh yeah, and we’ve got to buy the phone, too. I guess I see Google’s stake in this matter now that they’re selling their own phones. That’s alot of extra money to spend to save a few bucks on texts and int’l calls (which I don’t regularly make).

  6. touch? Says:

    wow. so your portable music player can’t make phone calls? yeah, i’d be pissed too.

  7. OHaleck Says:

    IPhones sold so far: 42 million. World’s population unable to use Google Voice (people outside US): about 6.7 billion.
    Now imagine, how excited we Europeans are… We’re soooooo excited.

  8. Wifiguy1967 Says:

    My simple question is….. will this work over a wifi connection? I am one of the many people who do not want to pay for a data plan, and have high speed at my home with a wireless router. Can i use this at my home over my wifi connection? This would be nice since i currently use my google voice number as my home phone….. therefore if im at home….. connected to my “wifi router” i could send and receive calls for free through this web app?

    I’m on t-MOBILE service with a Blackberry 8520 that connects to my wifi and utilizes UMA , which is great since our cell tower conection in our area is not so hot. I’m considering getting an UNLOCKED/JAILBROKEN IPHONE, but would prefer to utilize my wifi home conection for free calls……. could someone please clear this for me?

    I guess my simple question is… “WILL THIS WEB APP WORK ON MY HOMES WIFI ROUTER CONNECTION?” Thanks!

  9. jedisurfer Says:

    wifiguy1967 – did you ever get it working over wifi? That is why I would us it too. My 3G coverage is not good in my home office, so I thought I could make calls with GV over wifi, but it won’t dial. I can’t figure out why either. I can get iCall to dial, but not GV.

    THx…

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    [...] GV Connect is $2.99 and a no-brainer for Google Voice users: It makes it nearly as easy to use Google Voice for outgoing calls as it is to make a garden-variety call, and provides easy access to Google Voice voicemail and SMSes. It’s far more convenient than the Web-based stopgap that Google itself released back in January. [...]

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