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Apple lets 3G VoIP onto iPhone

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Apple is now allowing VoIP-over-3G apps, after a change to the new beta version 3.2 of its iPhone SDK, released yesterday in concert with the announcement of Cupertino's long-awaited iPad.

The news comes by way of a press release from iCall, a second from Fring, and a third from Acrobits, all providers of VoIP services for the iPhone that previously worked only over Wi-Fi.

In addition, VoIP-app developer WalkieTalkie VOIP (App Store link) says that their update is under review by Apple and will be released "shortly."

Market leader Skype didn't responded immediately to our requests for comment, but iCall CEO Arlo Gilbert said in a canned statement: "I applaud Apple's decision to allow iCall to extend its functionality beyond Wi-Fi and onto the 3G networks." Fring CEO Avi Shechter echoed that sentiment: "Fring users and our team alike are very excited that Apple Inc. have allowed independent iPhone VoIP applications over 3G networks."

And although their VoIP-over-3G service is available worldwide - as should be true for all such apps - an iCall spokesman reminded The Reg that its wise to check with your carrier, as support for the service varies.

AT&T announced last October that it would allow VoIP-over-3G service. After that announcement, an Apple spokeswoman told Cnet that Cupertino was "very happy" with AT&T's decision and that they would update its developer agreements to allow VoIP-over-3G support "as soon as possible."

Apparently, the announcement of the iPad, which offers 3G support as a $130 option, was the impetus Apple needed. Although it's unknown at this time whether the iPad will support VoIP-over-3G apps, Apple's software chief Scott Forstall said at yesterday's announcement event that the iPad will run "virtually all" iPhone software "virtually unmodified."

iCall, Fring, and Acrobits are not the only iPhone developer who have enhanced the phone capabilities of Apple's überpopular handset. Just this Tuesday, Google extended its Google Voice service to the iPhone - but not through the app that Apple has been "studying" since last September. Google's service is available instead through the iPhone's Safari browser at m.google.com/voice. ®

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