Apple refused to allow the app, which serves as a de facto replacement dialer and SMS client, from joining its app store in the summer of 2009, saying the app duplicated built-in phone functionality. But the decision also clearly prevented competition against Apple’s telecom partner AT&T, a move we called “inviting regulation.” And indeed the regulators came knocking.
Following summer 2009 inquiries from the FCC and then a probe from the FTC in 2010, Apple was forced to back down on its ban on third-party app-authoring tools, and now on Google Voice.
Google Voice lets users route all of their phone calls through a Google number, giving them cheap overseas calls, text translation of voicemail, per-contact call-routing rules, phone recording and free text messaging, among other features. Unlike Skype’s VOIP application, Google Voice uses the traditional phone channel, not the data plan.
Google responded to the ban by developing an HTML5 web app, but that’s not as powerful as the new app. Google didn’t mention the kerfuffle in its announcement of the app Tuesday, instead highlighting the app’s features. Google’s app is now live in the app store.
Epicenter editor John Abell’s quick review: “It’s a really slick app.” Meanwhile, somewhere in Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs is furiously taking scissors to his closet of turtlenecks in rage at the sullying of his baby, singing to himself, “While My iPhone Gently Weeps”.
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