GV Mobile+ for iPhone - app review

GV Mobile+ for iPhone made its first appearance in the app store a while back before it got quickly pulled, along with any other Google Voice type app.  Google cried foul, the FCC got involved, and we saw no type of Google voice app for quite a while.  Since Apple revised their App Store approval process, GV Mobile+ has made it's second debut in the App Store.

[iTunes Link]

GV Mobile+ is one app you can use to connect to Google Voice.  For those of you not familiar with the service, it basically allows you to choose a Google Voice phone number (free) with which you can use to forward calls to any number.  The Google Voice service used to be under the name Grand Central.  I think the Grand Central name was a little less confusing.  Keep in mind, Google Voice is not a VoIP service, so you'll still use your plan minutes.  The main idea behind it is you can give everyone one number and it'll forward all your calls to whatever number you choose.

One perk Google Voice does offer is free SMS.  GV Mobile+ has an extremely nice layout which integrates your current address book and you'll be able to text anyone from your Google Voice number the same way you'd send a regular text via the Messages app.  For a lot of people, this could be an excellent way to get rid of texting completely.  I wouldn't recommend it just yet though.  One big feature GV Mobile+ is lacking is push notifications.  It's rather annoying to have to keep checking the app to see if you've received new messages.  Push is supposed to be coming in an update.  I'm not quite sure why it wasn't there upon launch.  If you're really looking to ditch texting quickly, there are always workarounds.  I currently use Notifo [iTunes Link] to send me push notifications for Google Voice.  You can set it up online and it'll only take about 5 minutes of your time.  Growl apps and other push services will also work just fine until GV Mobile+ is updated to support push.

The app is dead simple to use and even allows you to create a separate favorites list than the one in your current address book.  The app gives you all the main features of Google voice in one neat package.  Along the bottom you've got your dial pad (phone book), SMS, History, Voicemail, and Settings.  When you place a call, your phone will ring (from yourself) and you'll simply answer and it'll connect the call.  It's dead simple to use.  SMS works just as you'd expect it, and voicemail sends down not only the audio but the translations as well.

Push is still a huge factor that keeps this app from being awesome.  Once push is added, I think it'll be amazing.  I've tested having someone leave a voicemail or texting my GV numher while I'm in the app and I'll get it pretty much instantly.  If push will be that quick, I can see several people using this app as their main communication app.  I know I would.  Let's cross our fingers it comes quick!

As a side note, in my video I wasn't sure what call presentation did. As a helpful YouTube user pointed out, call presentation is the feature that asks unknown callers to state their name before it connects to you. You can then hear their name and choose to either accept or deny the call. Neat!

Pros

  • Slick interface
  • Easy to set up
  • Extremely responsive (no crashes or failed calls as of yet)

Cons

  • No push (yet)

TiPb iPhone 4-star rated

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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GV Mobile+ for iPhone - app review

20 Comments

I'm enjoying using GV Mobile+, but the one feature in the other app called GV Connect that I would like in GV Mobile+ is showing how much calling credit you have, since I make international calls with my Google Voice account.

Yes but if you put your google number in your alist from AT&T then all your phone calls are free through google voice.

@david I've been wishing all along that I could add my Google Voice to a "favorite" number on my account (i.e., a number I can call and receive calls from that is unlimited, like tmobile's fave 5's)... are you saying that there is a feature like this I can add to my ATT account? How did you get this "alist"?

you can always have GV send texts to your email as jglowe74 states and it works fine, also a nice app called Groundwire (which will run in the background on iOS4) will connect to some VOIP apps that GV is compatible with (SipGate, Gizmo5, etc) and offers excellent call quality allowing you to bypass your cell minutes and use it completely free, the app costs $10 but the call quality is far superior to most free VOIP apps. I have been using it to turn my iPad into a phone while on Wifi.

@David - that used to be true, but I believe google changed how it dials numbers. It now assigns a unique number to each contact, rather than one number for all contacts. Can't remember where I read that though...

I hope you don't mind -- I'm going to be using the structure of this post as a basic anatomy for my review posts whenever that round comes about in the Next Top Blogger contest.
This is extremely well put together.
Kudos!

I DL'd the app and have tried it out a bit. A couple things that the review leaves out...
1) It really doesn't do anything other than the webapp, and I'd almost argue that the web app is faster with a better interface. Every time you click on something in GV Mobile it has to refresh the data...just like the web app.
2) The damn magic key error. If you are a user of multiple-account signin, you will get the magic key error until you turn the feature off. If you are like me (more than one person in the house on the same computer uses gmail / google apps), this is not worth having a standalone app for. For now, I'm sticking with the web app which as I said is surprisingly adequate.
I'm not angry about the purchase, the app does work well, I just don't see the benefit at this point. Maybe that would change with push added.

Ally,
I would have rated GV Mobile+ five stars even without the push. One of the features of Google Voice is the ability to transcribe messages and to forward to email and/or to SMS. I get the SMS almost instantly, and that is generally better than having push drain my 3G battery.

@matt. I use GV mobile+ from cydia store. And the number it calls back is your GV number. I have that number in my alist so those calls don't use minutes. I believe when you use the webapp it does what you said, as in assigning each contact a different number. Before JB for iPhone 4 came out and I had to use webapp. It didn't call me back using my GV number. It would dialout to some weird number, but it worked.
Basically using GV mobile+ or GV connect will callback using the GV number. Using the webapp won't.

Note that A-list is only available for the higher minute plans. The cheapo plans, like I have, don't get it. Check the AT&T site for availability.

The lack of push notifications is no surprise: it's not just a bit of code in the app. Push notifications require the developer to have a server dedicated to sending out the appropriate notifications (through Apple, but the developer's server still has to initiate all of them).
Not only is this quite a bit of work, but the server (or servers, if the app became popular enough) has to be maintained throughout the life of the app. That means. That you spend your three bucks now and the developer has to keep the server running forever, with you never paying a single upgrade fee or additional service fee.
As a result the developer has to be comfortable with a prediction that he will sell enough apps to make the server promise worthwhile. It's very possible that Google will re-submit their own Voice app and it will be approved; they'll likely give it away for free and if it's any good, suddenly sales of GV Mobile+ will drop to almost nothing. Despite that, the developer has made a promise that he'll keep providing those push notifications for free.
There are options: he can charge for notifications via in-app purchases, for example, but it's still a lot of work (even more work). I'm sure he hadn't planned any of this while the app was only available to jail breakers. Apple's turnaround was sudden, and the developer wisely decided to get his app back in the store ASAP.
Push notifications will logically take some time yet.

Having a push-dedicated app (like Boxcar) do push notifications makes more sense to me than having each app do it.

"You can activate "Call Presentation" to have every unknown caller say their name to Google's servers, which then call you and ask if you want to take the call."

Yes AT&T has what's called Alist. You can put 10 numbers in your Alist and all calls through that number are free. I've been doing this for a year and it's free. My google number 123-456-7890 is in my Alist so all my calls out and in show 123-456-7890 free Alisy.

We dropped our long distance home phone service over two years ago. Having the app now allows us to pick up our iPhone and connect a call to our home phone anywhere in the country or Canada. The calls are great and the app works smoothly without hiccups. Can't wait for the iPad version.

Well its been several months now since the App store release and still no push notifications. Seriously WTF?