April 08, 2010, 5:40 PM — Steve Jobs announced today that the next version of the operating system (OS) that powers both the iPhone and the iPad would support multi-tasking. Jobs said the iPhone gets the new OS this summer, and the iPad gets it in the Fall. Jobs also said iPhone OS 4.0 would support VoIP. When you combine those capabilities in the iPad 3G, does that transform it into a giant phone? If so, can I get rid of my iPhone?
My son, Kevin, who writes a blog about minimalist living called Xtreamlining, proposed the idea of using an iPad as a phone using VoIP. No, you wouldn't want to hold the iPad up to your head. You'd look like an idiot. But if you used a Bluetooth headset, you'd still look like an idiot, but no more so than everybody else. You might carry the iPad around in your hand or in your backpack or whatever, and just answer any incoming calls by pressing the button on the headset. The problem with that idea when we talked about it yesterday was that the iPad is a single-tasking device. So in a best-case scenario, the scheme would work only when the VoIP app was running. But today we learned about the future ability for iPad to multi-task.
The question is: Will it work?
I'm a Google Voice user. The phone number issued by Google is the one I give out to people, and the one I use for text messaging, which I usually do from the Google Voice web site.
When you launch the Voice site from an iPad, it loads the standard "mobile" version designed for cell phones. It gets confused when you attempt some functions, because it asks for your device's carrier-issued phone number (which, of course, doesn't exist for iPads).
Meanwhile, it turns out that Google is testing internally a VoIP capability for Voice. It appears that technology from the company's Gizmo5 acquisition has been built into a prototype future version of Google Voice, and it enables Internet-based phone calls via Voice.
This would be consistent with Google's desire to transform every possible non-Internet service into a Google Internet service. Word on the street that the VoIP capability will be rolled out soon. And, in any event, other VoIP services, including Skype, are also coming to an iPad near you.
But will it work? Will Apple allow it? Will AT&T?
It may be too early to make the call.