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Google's Voice speaks from iPhone

If you can't beat 'em, web 'em

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Google has launched a new app that give US-based iPhone and Palm Prē and Pixi users access to its Google Voice service.

But no, it's not the long-awaited Google Voice app for the iPhone that Apple has yet to approve for inclusion in its App Store. This Google Voice is an HTML5 web app, accessible through the iPhone's Safari and Palm's webOS browsers at m.google.com/voice.

Apple's refusal to allow a native iPhone app for Google Voice access was one of the first cracks in what was once a buddy-buddy relationship between Cupertino and Mountain View. Apple insists it's merely "studying" the app's suitability for the iPhone - but that study is now about to enter its seventh month, with no end in sight.

Since then, the rift has been widening into a chasm, with Google's CEO Eric Schmidt quitting Apple's board of directors last August as Mountain View began to encroach deeper and deeper into Cupertinian territory with the release of Android, Chrome OS, and finally the Nexus One smartphone.

But the web is still a free and unfettered common ground - today, at least - and that's where Google has placed the new iPhone and Palm version of Google Voice.

Google contends that HTML5 gives its web app "native app-like performance and speed"

In a Tuesday blog post, Google outlines the range of features available through the web app, including the ability to make calls and send text messages through a Google Voice number, speech-to-text voicemail transcription, and free text messages.

You also get access to what Google calls "cheap international calls," plus the ability to place icons for different Google Voice services onto your iPhone home screen or Palm webOS Launcher.

Google also claims that the web app will integrate with either Google Contacts or "your on-phone address book," but since we're not yet one of the lucky invitation-only Google Voice chosen few many, we're unable to test the quality of that address-book integration.

Although the web app is compatible with all versions of Palm WebOS, you'll need iPhone OS 3.0 or higher. (The current iPhone version is 3.1.2.) ®

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