Developer: Sean Kovacs
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3G

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

GV Mobile + is an app with a colorful history. Originally existing as a Google Voice app back in 2009, it was originally released to the App Store, but only lasted a short time before Apple decided that Google Voice apps had no place on the App Store. Developer Sean Kovacs did not give up development of the app, releasing it to Cydia for jailbroken iOS devices, and continuing to support its development, even releasing an upgraded paid version called GV Mobile +. Flash forward to September 2010, and the release of Apple’s revised App Store guidelines. Sean Kovacs read over the guidelines and saw nothing to prevent GV Mobile + from being accepted to the App Store. He got in touch with Apple, and after finding out that the app would be accepted on to the App Store, he submitted it. GV Mobile + is now available for all iOS Google Voice users to use.

Now, GV Mobile + is not a VOiP or SIP dialer – it is merely a frontend for your Google Voice account. This means that when you place a call, it will dial the phone number of your choice, whether that be your iPhone, or some other phone number entirely. It also lets you check your recent calls, listen to your voicemails, read their transcripts (based on Google’s transcription service, I’d recommend just listening to them), and most importantly, send and receive text messages with your Google Voice number. This is likely the killer feature for most users, as you can use this app as a way to replace your iPhone’s text plan. While the app does not support push notifications internally, it does register the URL gvm:/ with your device. This means that you can use an app like Boxcar to get push notifications by setting up email alerts for voicemails and text messages, set up a filter in Gmail to forward to your app’s push notification email address, and then set up your app to open up the “gvm:/” URL. When you view the notification on your iPhone, it will open up in GV Mobile +. This is not as simple or straightforward as a native internal push notification system, but it provides a workable alternative.

If you are a Google Voice user, this app is a lifesaver. Back in the days of when it was on Cydia, it enabled me to stay in touch with people without having to get a separate texting plan. The app is the same as it was on Cydia, with its only major new features being support for fast app switching and some minor cosmetic differences. But still, the interface is great, and it really makes the Google Voice experience much more usable on the iPhone than it is with just the website or web apps like VoiceCentral do. The other advantage this has over web apps is that it can access your iPhone’s contacts, which is handy if you do not synchronize your contacts with Google. While the app is designed to work with data connections, if you have service but not a data connection, there’s the Offline Dialing feature which will allow you to call people with your Google Voice number by dialing the commands in the native Phone app to call someone through your Google Voice number. This only works if you’re using the iPhone and it is set up with Google Voice.

GV Mobile + would be great on the iPad, as there’s no good native way to use Google Voice at this point from one, and one of the benefits of Google Voice is to decentralize your phone activity from just your phone. The app does cost $2.99, and with rumors that Apple has approved the official and presumably free official Google Voice app, it may not make sense to pick this up unless you need a Google Voice app right now. The app also has a few interface glitches – odd flickering sometimes pops up when you use the app in landscape mode and you can’t refresh from within an individual SMS conversation yet. According to the developer on Twitter, though, this functionality is coming in a future update. Ultimately, this is still a work in progress, but at least the developer is committed to improving the app as he works on it.

While GV Mobile + is not a perfect implementation of the Google Voice experience, it is currently the best way to use Google Voice on the iPhone. It also represents an exciting time for the App Store as a whole, as it shows Apple loosening its death grip on the App Store’s restrictions in some of these very silly cases where apps are rejected for no plausible reason. It also shows that rejection is not the end for developers of useful apps that Apple rejects, as even after GV Mobile tried to find new life on Cydia, it was able to return to the App Store once Apple allowed it in. Sometimes, there is life after rejection for iPhone developers.

Posted in: iPhone Apps and Games, Productivity, Reviews

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