A new feature released today allows Gmail users to make phone calls from within Gmail to anywhere in the U.S. for free. Yes, this includes cell phones and land lines, goodbye Skype! At least until the end of the year. If you have a Gmail account all you have to do is download and install theÂ voice and video plug-in from Google. If you have yet to see the message box pictured below when you sign-in to Gmail, just be patient. Google is rolling out this feature to all U.S. based Gmail users within the next couple of days.
So will Google Voice really kill Skype? It really depends on Google’s ability to continue offering free service beyond 2010 for U.S. and Canada and of course Google’s ability to offer the same service to international customers as well. However this is unlikely because it does cost Google money to connect you to a land line and to cell phones and unless there is some kind of advertising, before the call or during, I can’t see how or why Google would continue to offer the service for free.
Message box indicating that the feature is available in your Gmail account.
Go to http://www.google.com/chat/voice/ to download and install Voice and Video Chat for Gmail. Once installed you will notice that the Google Chat box in Gmail will display a “Call Phones” link . To make a phone call simply click on the Â Call Phone link and a Call window will appear (see below).
In order to make a phone call you must be signed-in to your Google Chat account. If you’re signed in you can make a phone call by dialing a number using the number pad (which is tied to your Google Contacts) or use your keyboard to enter the phone number.
When you are ready to make the phone call, click on the Call button and you call should go through. If you have a Google Voice account tied to your Gmail account then the person receiving the call will see the Google Voice number you are dialing from.
Cost to Use the Service
According the Gmail blog calls to the U.S. and Canada will be free for the remainder of 2010 and international calls will be billed at really low rates (see table below for some examples).
Table and information from the Gmail Blog.