New iPhone developer toolkit allows VoIP apps

Could Apple's iPad double as a phone even if Apple offers it with data-only 3G plans? A press release from third-party VoIP firm iCall certainly suggests so. iCall writes that the new version of Apple's iPhone developer toolkit, released yesterday, allows voice-over-IP applications to operate over cellular networks.

iCall already offered a VoIP app for the iPhone, but that only worked over Wi-Fi. Now, the firm claims to have "the first and only VoIP application that functions on the iPhone and iPod Touch over cellular 3G networks." iCall invites users to grab the app from Apple's iTunes App Store through this link.

If this news is accurate, then it signals a notable shift from Apple's prior position. Apple blocked the official Google Voice app last July; at the time, the online press surmised that the move had to do with AT&T. TechCrunch wrote about the subject, "Google Voice scares the carriers. It allows users to send free SMS messages and get cheap long-distance over Google Voice’s lines. It also makes it trivial to switch to a new phone service, because everyone calls the Google Voice number anyway."

Since then, of course, Google has managed to bypass Apple's restriction by releasing Google Voice as an HTML5 web app. Lifting the restriction in the iPhone SDK could lead to a plethora of other, native VoIP applications, though.

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