Google is making its Google Voice-based Gmail calling feature available to all users free in the U.S. through 2011. Merry Christmas.
Google Dec. 20 said it will continue to make its Gmail
calling capability free through 2011, a sign that the company wants to make
sure more of its Webmail users embrace the technology.
its Call Phones from Gmail feature in August, leveraging the company's
popular Google Voice phone management software.
Google said the tool would let U.S. users call anywhere
in the U.S. and Canada for free through 2010 and make international calls for
pennies per minute. Gmail users took up the service with gusto,
10 million calls through the first week.
"In the spirit of holiday giving and to help people
keep in touch in the new year, we're extending free calling for all of
2011," Google software engineer Robin Schriebman said in a blog post.
To access the feature, users must download Google's voice
and video plug-in
Gmail users may then click the "Call Phone" tab in the chat section
in the left menu bar.
This action will pop open a window with a virtual keypad
to the right of the screen. The feature will display Google Voice users'
numbers in outbound calls.
Gmail calling is certainly one way to get more users to
use Google Voice. AllThingsDigital's Liz Gannes said
she uses the feature as her primary landline at home.
What Google should do, in addition to making Google Voice
available to its Gmail users all over the world, is layer the phone calling
capability across all relevant services, including Google Docs, Sites and all
other Google Apps.
Moreover, adding calling across its dozens of consumer
Web services could help the company as it looks to build out its social networking communications capabilities
This would alsocounter
Facebook's integration with VOIP giant Skype.