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Google Voice Coming To iPhone As Web App

The calling service enables users to funnel multiple numbers to a single number, send free SMS messages, and make inexpensive long-distance calls.

Apple iPhone users may soon have an official way to use Google Voice, as Google is working on a Web application for its calling service, according to an unconfirmed report on David Pogue's blog on The New York Times's Web site.

Google Voice enables users to funnel multiple numbers to a single number, send free text messages, and make inexpensive long-distance calls. The service is not a VOIP app like Skype for iPhone, so users still have to use cellular minutes to make and receive calls.

Apple pulled a Google Voice app from the App Store a few weeks ago, saying the service duplicated functionalities of the iPhone, which is against Apple's developer policies. The move garnered the attention of the Federal Communications Commission, which sent letters to AT&T, Apple, and Google seeking an explanation for why the app was blocked.

Google has not confirmed it is working on a Web app version, but the Times report indicates Google Voice for iPhone will be a specialized Web page that should retain the functionality of a native app. The Web app will enable users to send SMS messages, as well as make and receive calls from their Google Voice number. Users will also be able to add a Google Voice bookmark to their home screen, so it will look and feel like a native app, the report said.

"Apple did not approve the Google Voice application we submitted six weeks ago to the Apple App Store," a Google spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. "We will continue to work to bring our services to iPhone users, for example by taking advantage of advances in mobile browsers."

Google did something similar with its location-sharing Google Latitude service, which was rejected from the App Store in order to avoid confusion with Maps on the iPhone. Google released Latitude for the iPhone as a Web app in July, but some users have complained the Web version is not as good as the native version for competing platforms like Android, Blackberry, S60, and Windows Mobile.


InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on application development. Download the report here (registration required).

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