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Google Voice Returns to the iPhone, by Hook or by Crook

Google Voice

This is a case of fabulous PR timing: Google's just released Google Voice for the iPhone...and this time it works. It's all thanks to some nifty HTML5 coding, and Google's clearly hoping to steal some of Apple's iTablet limelight.

If you remember this sad and sorry tale, back in July 2009 Apple turned own Google's native Voice app for the iPhone. Or it didn't turn it just shelved it in the review process. Or it didn't. Or whatever. The odd events at the time, with each company blaming each other in a subsequent FCC probe, could easily be seen as the early strikes in the Google versus Apple war. The upshot, however, was that Google Voice users were left unable to access their favorite Net-powered telephone technology via an iPhone.

Until now. Because with the launch of it's returned. The new site makes use of the advanced coding possible inside HTML5—the Web's nascent next-gen language protocol (and the system that Google's also been playing with to circumvent Flash on YouTube). The new system, contentiously (or perhaps not) labeled as a "Web app" by Google, is more sophisticated than the previous Web-based interface for Voice since it lets you access voicemails from inside the browser UI and also dial numbers directly on a smartphone's on-screen keypad.

Of course Google Voice isn't without flaws, and it has its fair share of detractors. Just last week Brad Feld wrote a lengthy but fascinating piece on why he's giving up Google Voice. But, and it's a big but, there are still many vocal supporters of the system who'll rejoice to see it reach the iPhone, by hook or by crook.

Though the app is also compatible with Palm's WebOS phones (the Pre and Pixie) it's most clearly targeted at Apple. Google is, in fact, trying to deliver a bit of a broadside to Apple the day before it's going to try to wow the entire world with its Apple iTablet device. And here's one to ponder: If the iTablet comes with a microphone, Wi-fi and 3G connectivity, and it's based on the iPhone's OS...what's to say Google's new system won't be entirely compatible with it?

[Via Reuters, CNET]