A week or two ago, I managed to snag an elusive invite to the Google Voice telephony service. Google acquired the developer, GrandCentral, two years ago, and the service has been in beta ever since. The service allows you to choose a phone number and have it ring all of your phones at once; you can also screen callers as they leave voicemail, choose not to have certain phones ring during certain times (such as the weekend), and even have recordings of your voicemails sent to your e-mail, along with machine transcriptions.
It's easy to see why an iPhone-native Google Voice application would have its appeal. My iPhone, after all, is the only phone I have: both work and personal calls come to that number, so it would be nice to have a little more control over managing those calls. Thus, the news that Apple has removed and rejected Google Voice applications causes me no end of consternation.
The first shoe to drop was the removal of Sean Kovacs's GV Mobile, a third-party app that allowed Google Voice subscribers to not only dial numbers using the iPhone's address book, but also send SMS messages, play back voice mails, and even make cheap international calls.
Clearly, this caused someone at Apple no end of discomfiture, for Kovacs said on his blog that he received a call from the company informing him that the program was being removed for the ever-vague "duplication of features." Kovacs also claimed on his Twitter account that the app had initially been personally approved by Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller. Kovacs has since announced that he'll be releasing GV Mobile for free via Cydia for those who have jailbroken their iPhones.
Nor are the third-party developers alone. Earlier this month, Google released Google Voice programs for both the BlackBerry and Android platforms, but an iPhone app was notably absent. In a statement to tech blog TechCrunch, a Google spokesperson said that the company had submitted an application to the App Store several weeks ago, but that it had been rejected by Apple.