Google Voice on the iPhone was the topic of much controversy July of last year, after Google’s attempt to bring us Voice was rejected by Apple. Apple believed that the app duplicated too much of the core functionality in the iPhone’s dialer (phh..) as the reason behind the rejection. This eventually led to a messy FCC investigaton.
Fast forward a year and few months, and we have an official Google Voice app. It came out of nowhere and served as a great surprise for many. Let’s see if it was worth the wait after all…
Google Voice features all of the standard functionality we’ve come to expect from in the web client, including sending and receiving voice calls and SMS. You can listen to voicemails from within the app, or alternatively read transcribed versions. iPhone contacts get integrated into the app making it easy to reach out to them.
If a number you’re trying to reach is not in your address book, it can be dialed using the app’s built in dialer which is similar to that of the iPhone. Alerts get pushed to you via Apple’s Push Notifications. Google Voice is only available in the US at the moment.
Google Voice presents a very simple and polished interface which makes for a seamless experience. I found it easier to use than GV Mobile+ and GV Connect. The “Inbox” section gives you access to all your SMS messages, recent and missed calls, and “Starred” messages as well . To refresh it, just swipe down Twitter style. “History” serves as your universal inbox, listing all calls, voicemails, and SMS messages in one central location.
The dialer carries a very clever design; it gives you a standard dialer with “Text” and “Call” options conveniently located below. Just enter the number that you’re trying to reach, and tap the appropriate option to get going. When tapping Text, you get sent to the messaging screen, where you can compose the text message and blast it off. When you press Call, it launches the iPhone’s native Phone app and calls one of Google’s many call routing services and connects you to the number you’re trying to reach. The party on the other end will see your Google Voice number on their caller id.
The Contacts section is broken up into two parts. You have “Quick Dial”, which let’s you add your favorite contacts for easy access, as well as your “Recents”. “All Contacts” gives you all the contacts that are natively stored in your iPhone. When selecting a contact, you have the options to Call, Text, or Add to Quick Dial.
Google Voice is not without glitches. Voicemail transcription is as buggy as ever, even though it does the job most of the time. I did notice a bug in the UI as well; when dialing a number and clicking the ‘add to contacts’ button the the left of “Text”, I get the opportunity to save the number in my contacts. If I change my mind and go back to the dialer, the buttons below the number pad disappear. This can easily be remedied by going over to another section and coming back to “Dialer”, but it’s annoying nonetheless.
If you have contacts on your online GV account, don’t count on them syncing over to the app. You only have access to the contacts that reside on your iPhone. Even adding new contacts using the app, will result in them getting added to your phone, not online.
Google Voice executes all of the features from their web service pretty well. The app is fast, responsive and best off all, free! If you’re a Google Voice user, it’s definitely worth a shot!