I’ve been an avid user and fan of Google Voice ever since I got into the service when it was still available by invite only. I requested access to the service when it was still GrandCentral, before Google acquired the company and its phone management technology. But the real power of Google Voice didn’t come until mobile apps began turning smart phones into Google Voice dialing and messaging machines. The official Google Voice apps for Android and BlackBerry devices work excellent and good, respectively, but iPhone users has been left wanting more for far too long.
Other than a brief blip when some third-party Google Voice apps were available for a few bucks, then summarily taken down and banned by Apple, Google Voice has been strikingly absent from the iOS environment as an app. Apple eventually blocked Google’s official app and after more than a year-long stalemate, Apple appears to be relenting. GV Connect, the first of a series of third-party apps expected to be approved by Apple for Google Voice, delivers almost everything I want from the service on mobile, but it’s still missing some key features. Being the first third-party app out of Apple’s gates of approval, I paid the premium rate for GV Connect because I’m desperate for something better than Google’s HTML5 version of the service. But under different circumstances, I wouldn’t recommend paying $3 for an app that is likely to get revived and approved by Google for free. I’ve been using the app for a little more than a week now and it’s already crashed at least half a dozen times. Overpaying for apps is one thing, but when I pay I have an even greater expectation that the app will work smoothly without interruption. It’s extra annoying when you’re halfway done typing a text message and it all goes away without warning. Push notifications, a must for anyone that relies on Google Voice as a primary communications hub, are completely missing from GV Connect. Moreover, placing a call still requires the user to answer an automated incoming call before their outgoing call is placed. On the other hand, the address book integration, SMS, voicemail and history all work with ease. I also enjoy having the full range of Google Voice settings at my disposal in the settings menu. GV Connect quickly made its way into my daily use app category, but it’s only a placeholder until something better arrives from Google or another third party developer.