Gmail’s long awaited feature has finally come to fruition: you can call any phone right from Gmail. Gmail had voice and video chat between PCs before, but starting today you can call any mobile or landline number anywhere in the world right from Gmail’s interface. This feature is currently available only for US users (sob); international availability is yet to announced.
The first time you launch it, you will asked to install the Google Voice plug-in. Then you are able to place free calls to the US and Canada. These calls will remain free through at least the end of 2010. International calls are billed at very low rates; calls to France, for example, cost $0.02 per minute and that to India cost $0.06 per minute. Google has put up a comparison page of call rates against “leading internet telephony provider”, read as Skype.
Dialing a phone number works just like a normal phone. Just click “Call phone” at the top of your chat list and dial a number or enter a contact’s name. If you have a Google Voice phone number, calls made from Gmail will display this number as the outbound caller ID. And if you decide to, you can receive calls made to this number right inside Gmail. Detailed instructions can be found here.
If you’re using Google Apps for school or business, you won’t see it yet.
[via Gmail Blog]