A View from Erica Naone

Apple Can't Keep Google Voice Off the iPhone

A new version of the software works through the phone’s browser.

  • January 26, 2010

Google helped loosened Apple’s tight control over the iPhone a little today by launching Google Voice as a Web app for both the iPhone and Palm OS.

Google Voice provides a single phone number for multiple phones, provides low-cost international calls, transcribed voicemail and a number of other features.

The move is significant because last summer Apple controversially removed Google Voice from the App Store, saying that it duplicated features already available on the iPhone. This prompted an FCC inquiry, and Google promised at the time to find ways to bring its services to users “one way or another.”

To get the rich features that come with Google Voice, the company made use of HTML 5, a new Web technology being built into browsers that lets them run more sophisticated features without the need for plugins. This is important because the iPhone doesn’t support Adobe Flash, which can be used to built rich internet applications.

The approach is brilliant and potentially deadly–there’s no way to stop a Web app without turning off the Internet. Perhaps it could be the beginning of a backlash against the App Store. As mobile apps get better, developers may lose patience with the arcane, and sometimes seemingly arbitrary, process of Apple’s app review.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning magazine and daily delivery of The Download, our newsletter of what’s important in technology and innovation.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.