SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Google Inc unveiled a new version of its Internet phone service on Tuesday in its latest effort to bypass Apple Inc’s gatekeepers and make Google Voice a popular service on the iPhone.
The new version of Google Voice can only be accessed through a smartphone’s Web browser, unlike the so-called native apps that can be downloaded directly onto an iPhone.
In July, Google said that Apple had turned down its application to offer Google Voice as a native iPhone app. The rare public spat underscored the growing competition between the two tech giants and prompted the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to request more information from the companies on the matter.
Apple responded at the time that the Google Voice app had not been rejected, but that it was under review.
Google Voice allows users to make cheap long-distance calls and to forward calls from a single phone number to multiple phones, among other things.
The disagreement over Google Voice comes as Google, the world’s No. 1 search engine, and Apple are increasingly encroaching into each other’s markets. Earlier this month, Google began selling the Nexus One smartphone directly to consumers, and Google is developing an operating system for PCs that could compete with Apple’s line of Mac PCs.
In August, Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple’s board of directors.
Google already had a version of Google Voice available through mobile Web browsers.
But Google described the new version of Google Voice as a “Web app,” noting that it is much more interactive than the previous browser-based version of the service, with the ability to listen to voice mails directly from within the browser and to dial phone numbers on an interactive on-screen keypad.
Google said the new version of Google Voice is designed for iPhone 3.0 and higher and Palm Inc Web OS smartphones.
A Google spokeswoman said the company had not received any updates from Apple regarding offering a native app version of Google Voice on the iPhone. An Apple representative could not be reached for comment.
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