Google Voice, Google’s increasingly popular VoIP (voice over internet protocol) service, has added a new feature that is useful even for those who have not signed up for the service. Google now offers the option to make free phone calls from your Gmail account. All that is required to use this feature is to install the Gmail Voice and Video plug-in. CNN has reported that over 1 million calls were placed in the first 24 hours of use, so this feature is destined for popularity.
Calls to any number, land line or mobile, are free for 2010, and Google has not specified, when (if ever) they will begin charging for them. International calls begin at $.02/min and the rate varies depending on the country.
This feature is easy to use. Sign in or create a new Gmail account. Look for the “Call Phone” option in the Chat area under your name. If you have not already installed the Google Voice and Video plug-in, you will be prompted to do so.
Click “Call Phone” and dial the number–it’s as easy as that. Gmail will keep track of numbers you have called in case you need to access them later. You don’t need to sign up for a Google number, although if you have one you can use it to receive calls in Gmail. This feature comes with $.10 of credit for calls in case you want to try an international call.
Adding credit to the account or upgrading to full Google voice service is simple. Go to the Google Voice website and log in with your Gmail account. The sidebar on the left will have options to view international rates, upgrade your account, or add credit to your account.
If you are a current Google Voice user and have a Google number, your Google number will show on caller id when you are placing a call. If not, a different number will show up that can not be tied to your specific Google account.
“Google: 1 million Gmail calls on first day.” CNN.