The Google Voice for iPhone story has now come full circle. The application was removed from the iPhone App Store by Apple during the summer of 2009, spurring a Federal Communications Commission investigation. The FCC targeted not only Apple, but Google and AT&T. No results or findings of that investigation were ever published.
In late September, Apple approved a handful of third-party applications that enabled Google Voice on the iPhone, but the Google-made version of Google Voice had yet to make an appearance until today. The free application became available starting Tuesday afternoon from the iPhone App Store.
Google Voice for iPhone allows users to: Access their Google Voice account from their iPhone; receive push notifications for new text or voicemail messages; send free text messages to U.S. numbers and make international calls at cheap rates; listen to voicemail, read transcripts and manage their Google Voice inbox; display their Google Voice number as caller ID when making calls; and call contacts from their iPhone Address Book or enter new numbers on the dialpad. In short, the application provides a lot of features and functionality.
The arrival of this application means iPhone users can ditch the browser-based HTML5 version of Google Voice that Google has offered since January. Google says that most calls will be placed via Direct Access Numbers, and should be connected as fast as any normal voice call would from the iPhone.
Back in September, I tested two of the third-party Google Voice applications. Both crushed the battery life of my iPhone, draining it from a full charge in mere hours. I was forced to give up on them, they were so bad.
I've installed the official Google Voice application for iPhone, and so far battery life hasn't been affected. A day or two of use should tell us all that we need to know about the new applications' affects on battery life. Hopefully, they are minimal.
At first blush, setting it up and connecting it to my Google Voice account was a breeze. It performs faster and is better designed than the competing third-party applications. As Google says, the first few phone calls I placed via the Google Voice app were connected immediately.
Google Voice for the iPhone requires iOS 3.1 and up. It only works in the U.S