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August 07, 2009

Google Voice App for Apple to Debut

By Amy Tierney, TMCnet Web Editor

Internet search giant Google is reportedly building a Web browser-based application for Google (News - Alert) Voice to run on Apple's iPhone.

The effort comes after Apple rejected the Google Voice application two months ago for allegedly duplicating iPhone features, according to a New York Times report.
Beyond Google Voice, Apple (News - Alert) removed two similar programs, GV Mobile and Voice Central. In a blog describing the exchange with Apple, one of the Voice Central developers said he didn’t receive advance notice that his app would be deleted.
David Pogue, a technology writer for the New York Times, wrote that the new Google Voice application would mimic an iPhone (News - Alert)-shaped Web page.
“Already, Google says it is readying a replacement for the Google Voice app that will offer exactly the same features as the rejected app—except that it will take the form of a specialized, iPhone-shaped Web page,” Pogue’s blog said. “For all intents and purposes, it will behave exactly the same as the app would have; you can even install it as an icon on your home screen.”
Apple’s relationship with AT&T (News - Alert) could be once reason for the Google Voice app ban to quash the competition. The company has an exclusive, multi-year U.S. distribution deal to carry and sell Apple’s iPhone devices.
“Google continues to walk a tightrope created by Apple's intricate App Store rules,” Clinton Boulton wrote in an eWeek report. “Google cannot build applications that will overlap with functionality on the iPhone and hope to see them endorsed by Apple.
However, nothing can stop Google from building a special Google Voice application users may access from a Web browser.”
A Google spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.
Google Voice software is based on technology Google bought in 2007 when it acquired GrandCentral, a start-up company. The company recently relaunched the service as Google Voice, but only offered it to previous GrandCentral subscribers and users who signed up for an invitation to try the technology.
The technology provides one number through which users can funnel calls to their home, work and cell phones. It differs from other Internet phone services, such as Skype, which require a Wi-Fi connection.
Meanwhile, Apple’s decision to Google Voice has is prompting federal officials to open an investigation in to the matter. James D. Schlichting, the acting chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, has asked for answers to several questions, including what role AT&T played in the decision. The commission also is looking into what role AT&T might play in restricting other iPhone apps and their involvement in the development of other iPhone apps.

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Amy Tierney is a Web editor for TMCnet, covering unified communications, telepresence, IP communications industry trends and mobile technologies. To read more of Amy's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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