Google Adds Free Telephone Voice Calls to GMail

By Craig Buckler
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Do you have a GMail account (who doesn’t?) From today, you may be lucky enough to notice a new “Call Phone” option in your Chat box…

Google Voice

Unlike the existing GMail voice and video chat system, Call Phone allows you to call a standard land-line telephone — the recipient doesn’t need to be logged on or even have a PC. What’s more, calls to the US and Canada are totally free and international calling rates are very competitive (less than $0.02 per minute for the UK, France, Germany, China and Japan).

The Call Phone system uses the same browser plug-in as voice and video chat and it’s available for Windows XP+, Mac OS X 10.4+ and Linux.

Google has announced they’ll be rolling out the feature to US-based GMail users during the next few days. International users and those using Google Apps in their school or business won’t receive it just yet. However, I’m going to let you into a little secret — I’m in the UK and the feature has appeared in my account. It’s possibly because I have “English (US)” set as my default language and, although I’m charged for local UK numbers, calls I make to the US are free! I suspect it’s a technical loophole which Google will plug, but I’d be interested to hear if any other non-US residents have received the feature.

Call Phone looks good and, assuming call quality and low costs can be maintained, Skype has reason to be concerned.

Have you tried the Call Phone feature from your GMail account? How was your experience?

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  • andrea_r

    Canadians are getting it too. But, I did see someone report that calls needed to originate in the US.

    in other words, I can call other Canadians, but Americans have to call me – I can’t call them.

  • Anonymous

    It works like its supposed to. I have the widget on my website so my phone number is not exposed and it rings my landline and my cellphone. One phone number for where ever I happen to be.

  • W3bnewbie

    yip service activated by me too in South Africa

  • Michael

    It appeared for me in Australia, but then disappeared several hours later. I think it was an error

  • harryo

    I had it too, yesterday; I’m in The Netherlands, have UK English set as the language. Could make a call to my mobile phone, without providing any payment details.
    But today it is not there anymore…

  • Meximik

    I just started using the phone service. The sound quality is great! I am using a gaming headset with mic and the clarity is much better than my wireless home phone.

    The callerID comes up as Escondido, Ca, so if you see this it is someone probably using Google Phone.

    I love the service so far and will continue to use it. I am seriously thinking of dropping my comcast home phone line and just use Google Phone for my outgoing calls and my cell phone the rest of the time.

  • W2ttsy

    I’m in australia and its shown up on both of my accounts. Curious to see how the billing will work though, and whether it will be one large bill, incremental bills (like iTMS) or pre pay calling credits…

  • Ernie

    It works in Eastern European countries too

  • camilo lopez

    I made a call to USA from Colombia and it worked perfectly, Google Rocks.

  • Franzie

    It works so well, it’s unbelieveable. I see full integrated voice comm in the near future with gmail

  • Anonymously

    “Gmail” is the future of Google, not search. By that I mean not email, but messaging in general, since all a search is really only message a requesting an automated response on a input. Do wish though that Google would kill the name change it to just G, Go, Goo or something — mail is dead.

  • mc strawberry

    whoops, yet another area will soon be covered by google…

    they know what you eat today
    hear everything you say
    and when they send you mail
    they know when you can go sometime next day

    :o) no flame, I use many many google services, but it IS getting a little bit scary – all they get know about ‘un… one day they’ll forget their “don’t be evil” politics and hell, this is a blasphemy, but I hope I’ll be dead by then…

  • Sharan
  • ZXT

    This is brilliant because you don’t need to install anything except for the browser. Now it’s free calls to US and Canada as long as you have a browser and internet. For other countries I can use my Onesuite and get really low rates.
    Talk is getting cheaper and cheaper. 10 years ago calling overseas or long distance will cost you so much, now it’s either free or dirt cheap.