Back in the middle of 2009, Google submitted an official Google Voice App for iPhone that would allow users to manage their Google Voice account and place calls using the service, along with free text messaging, voicemail playback and transcription.
At the time we expected Apple would simply approve it and that would be that, but instead Apple chose to “study” it for another 16 months, and in the meantime they also pulled all of the other third party Google Voice apps from the App Store, citing “duplication of built-in functionality” because of the text messaging and phone dialer capabilities.
But in September of this year, Apple chose to allow the third party GV Apps back into the App Store, and at the time we speculated that Apple would probably allow the real Google Voice App, the one that started this whole mess, back into the App Store as well. And today it happened, the official Google Voice App is now available for free in the U.S. App Store.
While the official GV App doesn’t integrate perfectly with the iPhone as it does on Android, it’s still very useful for those of you with Google Voice accounts. In fact, it appears to be substantially faster than the other third party Google Voice apps available in the App Store, perhaps because Google’s app is directly tied into the Google Voice service itself, while the third party offerings are forced to deal with an intermediate layer, the Google Voice website.
Receiving calls made to your GV number works just as it did before, your phone will ring and the stock Phone App will come up allowing you to answer the call.
With the GV App you can now also make calls easily using your GV number, however you must use the GV App to do it; if you use the stock Phone app, the call will not be routed through Google Voice and the person at the other end will not see your GV number on caller I.D. The App does integrate with your contacts though, so you can easily select one and place a call without having to manually enter the persons phone number.
Text messaging also works quite well, though you must send text messages using the GV App if you want them to be sent using Google Voice. Unfortunately it isn’t possible for Google Voice to integrate with the official SMS App on your phone, so if you do continue to use the official SMS App be aware that it will still count against your monthly text messaging plan. With that in mind, it is possible to send and receive text messages using the Google Voice app, and you will receive push notifications of new text messages if the App is closed.
The unified Google Voice inbox, visible in the screenshot at the top of the page, provides access to both text messaging and voicemail transcripts, and you can also select a specific voicemail in order to listen to the recording itself.
More screenshots available below.