Apple Nixes Google Voice From iPhone

The App Store won't carry Google's app that lets users send free text messages, make inexpensive long-distance calls, and funnel multiple phone numbers to a single number.
Apple has decided not to offer the Google Voice application on the iPhone, drawing criticism on the Web for preventing iPhone customers from accessing what supporters claim is an innovative telephony service.

In addition, Apple removed Google Voice-enabled third party applications GV Mobile and VoiceCentral. An Apple representative told GV Mobile developer Sean Kovacs that the application was removed because it duplicated features that come with the iPhone.

"He didn't actually specify which features, although I assume the whole app in general," Kovacs said on his blog.

Google Voice makes it possible to send free text messages and provides inexpensive long-distance calling. In addition, the service can take calls from multiple telephone numbers and funnel them to one Google Voice number, a service that makes it easier to switch telephone carriers. Google Voice is available by invitation only.

Google said it submitted the application for inclusion in Apple's App Store six weeks ago. Google did not say why the application was rejected. "We will continue to work to bring our services to iPhone users -- for example, by taking advantage of advances in mobile browsers," the company said in an e-mailed statement released Monday.

Google Voice is available to people using Research In Motion's Blackberry or an Android-based smartphone. Android, an operating system developed by Google, enables users to replace the phone's regular dialer with Google Voice.

AT&T is the exclusive service provider for the iPhone in the United States. Applications like Google Voice have the potential of cutting into its revenue. AT&T, for example, charges for text messaging and other data services. The company declined to comment for this story.

Many tech bloggers criticized Apple for refusing to offer Google Voice. Jason Kincaid of TechCrunch claimed Apple is "actively stifling innovation."

"Google Voice is the kind of service that can actually have a positive impact on your life, and not in a frivolous, entertainment-related sense," Kincaid wrote. "It makes it easier to connect with people, and to manage those connections."

In providing what supporters say is a valuable service, Google is also hoping to make money. A recent patent application indicated that Google is developing technology related to "ring-back advertising," a form of audio advertising that could work with Google Voice.

Registration is now open for the leading enterprise communications event, VoiceCon. It happens in San Francisco, Nov. 2-5. Find out more and register.