Making Calls from Gmail

Google released a new feature on Gmail today. Now you can call people from your Gmail account. The service is part of the existing Voice and Video chat features.

As Google points out, the problem with traditional chat services was the requirement that both parties be at their computer and logged in. This allows a user to call an friend’s phone if they are offline. It’s a pretty simple concept, and it works.

I tested out the call feature as soon as it was active in my account. It felt a little like Google Voice, which I had anticipated. When you call someone from Gmail, if you have a Google Voice account your number will show up on caller ID. Calls to the US and Canada are currently free, and will be at least through the end of this year. Google offers cheap calls overseas, ranging from 2 cents a minute on landlines, and in the ballpark of 20 cents a minute to call mobile phones.

Calling from Gmail requires a microphone and speakers if you don’t have a headset. I would imagine you’d want to invest in a headset if you are going to use this feature a lot. I really could have used this feature last night, when AT&T dropped 20 calls. Not having a landline, I could have called back through my computer and ended the constant callbacks. I am really looking forward to using this feature more. It looks like it is for Gmail only, and not Google Apps email. A lot of things take longer to reach Apps accounts though, so I am not too concerned about it. If you don’t have the call feature in your Gmail account yet, it should be coming soon. Check it out and let me know what you think. Check out the video below for a brief introduction by Google.

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