Google Voice For iPhone: If You Can't Beat 'em, Go Around 'Em

While Apple still ponders whether to approve Google Inc.'s Google Voice application for the iPhone, Google has launched the service as a Web app that bypasses Apple's App Store.

The Web app version, available for iPhone OS 3.0 and also Palm Web OS devices, harnesses "the power of HTML5, a new Web technology that makes it possible to run faster, richer Web-based applications right in the browser," according to Michael van Ouwerkerk, a Google software engineer, on the company's Google Voice blog.

The Google Voice app for the iPhone includes access to a streamlined version of a Google Voice inbox, the ability to display your Google Voice numbers as the outbound caller ID, free text messaging and international calling at "low rates."

"Once logged in, dial phone numbers just as you normally would. The page will confirm that you want to dial a Google voice access number," according to a video posted on the Google Voice blog page. "Switch to the inbox to see all your transcribed voice mails and text messages that you've received."

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The service is available through a mobile phone browser at

The news comes a day after Google announced an updated Google Voice extension for the Google Chrome browser for PCs that includes the ability to see how many new messages you have, the most recent messages in your inbox and the ability to click on any phone number on a Web site to start a phone call.

Meanwhile, Apple maintains that it did not reject Google Voice for its App Store, only that it is still studying the application.

"[Google Voice] has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone's distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone's core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone," wrote Apple on its Web site. "In addition, the iPhone user's entire Contacts database is transferred to Google's servers, and we have yet to obtain any assurances from Google that this data will only be used in appropriate ways. These factors present several new issues and questions to us that we are still pondering at this time."