More than 14 months after shutting the door on the official and third-party applications for Google Voice, Apple has relented, approving GV Mobile for the iPhone.
Google Voice is a phone management application more than 1.4 million people use to route calls to their phones using a special phone number.
The app, which enables free calls in the United States and cheap international calls, lets users enjoy automatic voice mail transcription, the ability to listen to live messages as they come in to voice mail and several other tools to make call management easier.
Google submitted a version of its app for the iPhone to Apple's App Store for approval in June 2009. Some enterprising developers, such as Sean Kovacs, built apps such as GV Mobile that take the dialing and other capabilities from Google Voice and make them work on Apple's iPhone.
Google's app was never approved, though Apple said it never actually rejected the app.
The "he said, she said" touched off such scrutiny among the media that the Federal Communications Commission formally questioned Google, Apple and AT&T. Apple, it turned out, was indeed behind the rejection.
Third-party apps such as VoiceCentral and GV Mobile were originally approved but then removed for competing too closely with features on the iPhone.
Now, Apple has done an about-face, accepting GV Mobile, Kovacs said on his blog Sept. 18.
The app is available for download from the iTunes Webstore here for $2.99. "After a long year and a half of being home sick, GV Mobile makes an epic return to the App Store," Kovacs wrote.
Like Google's version of the app, GV Mobile supports automatic transcription and voice mail playback and most other features. Apple also accepted GV Mobile rival GV Connect, which does what GV Mobile does and also costs $2.99 for purchase here.
The move comes weeks after Apple loosened the reins on its App Store development rules and procedures after enough developers complained about the gauntlet they had to run.
It's a safe bet that Google's own Voice app will be approved by Apple, if not this year, then early 2011.