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Google voice and the controversy of the app store "rejection"

posted Sep 13, 2009, 11:39 AM by Paul Sroufe   [ updated Sep 13, 2009, 6:27 PM ]
I've been listening to many tech podcasts over the years and heard many more issues discussed.  Most of the time I have an immediate opinion over the matter or don't know enough (or care enough) to have one.   The story of apple "denying" the google voice application to the iTunes app store seems to be one of a good amount of controversy.   But most importantly, not many people seem to have a full grasp of what google voice is.

I have been using google voice since it was called Grand Central, and since google bought them and added SMS support, I use it everyday of my life.   The funny part is that I only use it with one device: my iPhone, no app required!!

I am posting this article in hopes that I can effectively explain what google voice is and how it impacts the user and the carrier.  You can always visit for more information!

Google Voice (GV) is a call middle man service, it gives you awesome features like: ringing all your lines (cell, home, work) at once, recording calls, and setting up different voicemail greetings for different people.   What GV isn't: a VoIP service like Gizmo5, Skype or google talk.   When someone's calls your GV number they're call is routed into Google's VoIP hardware, but it is rerouted back to whatever carrier/PSTN network of the phone you decide to pick up.   GV does however have a reach into the Gizmo5 network, allowing a Gizmo5 number to be one of your GV attached phones.

How this impacts cell phones
  1. The GV application, seen from the Android perspective, allows a person to get unlimited free texts, however they are not pushed to the phone like SMS is.  The feature is currently polled using a data service (3G/Wifi).  A service is provided by GV to forward texts to your cell phone, which is what I use. 
  2. Free calling using Fring, or many other SIP based apps.  The quality and delay on this type of usage is poor at best, I have tried it once but do not use it for that reason.  You must also leave Fring running in the foreground to receive calls.
    • SIDE NOTE: I do however use the Gizmo5 desktop application, the call quality is much better and incoming calls I can answer at my desk with no penalty to my cell carrier minutes.
  3. Myth: GV will take over your carrier's Voicemail.   You can still choose to call the cell phone directly and get the carriers voicemail service, if your friends are calling your GV number, then the carriers voicemail is bypassed for GV's voicemail.  No iPhone application required. 
  4. Myth: GV will take over your phones Dialing and use VoIP.  The GV application on the Android platform exists very nicely next to the phones dialer.  On the Android phone you can option to use a running SIP service connected to Gizmo5 to make a call or use the phones wireless service.  Again, the SIP service quality is crap if you ask me.   

 Feature List
 GV Application
 Current iPhone (No GV App)
 TextsFree or Uses Carrier SMS
Uses Carrier SMS
 Dial using GV number Yes Yes, if you have the person's 406 number**
GV VoicemailYes, Transcript emailed to phone or played using data connection
 Yes, Transcript emailed to phone
** Must receive text from the person to acquire their 406-xxx-xxxx GV associated number.

As you can see, the "rejection" of the application on the iPhone isn't preventing a whole lot.  So why did Apple "reject" it?