Apple is allowing the Google Voice app on the iPhone. The free app was initially turned down by Apple, precipitating an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.
Google Voice allows users to get inexpensive rates for international calls, free text messaging to U.S.-based phone numbers, voice-mail transcription, and the display of the Google Voice number as the caller ID. The app also alerts a user when a new voice mail or text message has been received, and most calls are placed through direct-access numbers, which allows them to be connected as quickly as regular phone calls.
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The approval by Apple comes nearly a year and a half after the app was first submitted. A web version of Google Voice has been available since January, but now it’s also available as a more functional app.
Google Voice, built around the technology the company acquired when it bought GrandCentral, allows a person to be called at a single phone number, and all phones for that person — home, work, cell — ring at the same time. There is also a single voice-mail box, voice-to-text transcription sent by e-mail or text messages, and a variety of controls, including the ability to record different voice-mail greetings for different callers.
To allow an iPhone caller to have the Google Voice phone number in Caller ID rather than the iPhone’s, Google’s solution was to have its Voice app used instead of the iPhone’s dialer. That solution is used on Android phones and BlackBerrys, but Apple originally refused to approve it, apparently because the accompanying free text messages and low-cost international calls posed a revenue problem for Apple’s U.S. carrier partner, AT&T.
Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for consumer technology at the NPD Group, noted that, “after a protracted review,” it’s good to see that…