Call Phones For Free Through Gmail

Gmail is rolling out a new service that will let you call phones in the US and Canada for free right from your email.

International calls will be as low as $.02/per minute.

Gmail users will begin to start seeing the service pop up under the chat list over the next few days.

Domestic calls will be free “for at least the rest of the year.” Which is to say, for the next four months.

Why would anyone need this? The Gmail blog says, “We’ve been testing this feature internally and have found it to be useful in a lot of situations, ranging from making a quick call to a restaurant to placing a call when you’re in an area with bad reception.”

No matter what you think of the service, any downward pressure on rates is good news for consumers.

Call phones from Gmail [The Official Gmail Blog]

Comments

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  1. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Damn, this is going to be murder for those with carpal tunnel, or for the receiver, if the caller writes their emails in internet shorthand.

  2. samonela says:

    Funny, I just got this notification seconds ago on my own Gmail (it’s open all day at work)…

  3. tofupuppy says:

    Yep, just saw this pop up 5 minutes ago in my gmail. Before yesterday I would have thought this was unnecessary. But my crappy AT&T cell service kept going out and I had to use Skype to call Comcast to complain about my crappy cable service. This would be helpful since you don’t have to download a separate app like Skype to use.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I think this will go over well – might be a game changer.

  5. rondalescott says:

    Try to look at the big picture. This is Google’s first rolling out of the Gizmo5 tech they bought. This is just a beachhead; I am sure they want to kick up usage to test how well it scales.

    The real target for this is Google Voice. When this hits the mobile Google Voice clients, you’ll have a full Google-backed VoIP solution right there in your phone that uses your Google Voice number to make and receive calls. At that point people will start asking why they need to pay for voice plans at all…

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      The answer to why, is that cell phone companies won’t let you do data service without voice service.

      • rondalescott says:

        That is untrue: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/mobilebroadband/?page=plans

        Whether one could sign up their fully-purchased, non-contract (for example) Droid X on such a plan is another question, but 3G plans certainly exist.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          It specifically says at the top
          “Mobile Broadband Plans for USB Modems, PC Cards, ExpressCards, MiFiâ„¢ 2200, Notebooks or Netbooks”

          • rondalescott says:

            I realize that. I was trying to prove that 3G-only plans exist, are technically possible, and are even offered for certain categories of devices.

            When I stated that people will begin to ask why they need a voice plan, I was referring to the national conversation that will ensue between consumers and service providers. Demand for a service can drive the availability of a service.

      • bsh0544 says:

        If you can convince them you’re deaf they’ll let you do it. I don’t know about Verizon in particular, but I know at least T-Mobile will. Most carriers are probably game.

      • JohnDeere says:

        tmobile will

    • NightSteel says:

      I look forward to this very thing. I’ve been looking for a free VOIP to regular phone number solution for my Android phone, so I could go back to a lower voice plan.

    • Skankingmike says:

      Google voice is already on Google’s Mobile apps.. wtf are you talking about?

      http://www.google.com/mobile/voice/

      It came out today that’s what this is all about (mostly)

  6. Brandroid says:

    For those of you who have received the notifications, what do they look like? Is it an email?

    • tofupuppy says:

      It was a popup box pointing to the “chat” list in the sidebar.

    • Caprica Six says:

      I didn’t receive a notification. It just was a pop up on the left hand side nav bar. It’ll be pretty obvious as you can’t miss the big pop up about making free phone calls in the US/Canada :-)

  7. B* says:

    Would this save on cell minutes if you dialed through gmail on your phone?

  8. RvLeshrac says:

    The question is: Is this real in-browser VoIP, or is it Google Voice FakeVoIP, where they call you (presumably your GV number) and the number you’ve entered simultaneously?

    If the latter, then it changes absolutely nothing, since no cell provider will allow (short of trickery) GV incoming numbers on “free minutes” lists.

  9. thedarkerside.to says:

    “No matter what you think of the service, any downward pressure on rates is good news for consumers.”

    Only to an extend. If the rates get too low then investment in new infrastructure / feature will be reduced as there is no money available for these expansions.

    Google really only can get away with giving it away because they get their revenue from someplace else. I guess Telcos could start inserting ads into every phone call / text message you make and thus offer you “free” service too, but quite frankly I rather pay for not having this kind of nagging via advertising going on.

    • Mecharine says:

      I dont think so. If this is VoIP, then the infrastructure is not a problem, because ISP’s must make routine upgrades to their network for internet.

  10. dreamfish says:

    Invention of the devil.

  11. ellemdee says:

    Yet another way to locate lost cell phones.

  12. mowz says:

    Isn’t this what Skype is for?

  13. tinmanx says:

    Hmm… I would use this, but I have no mic on my desktop.

  14. Kat@Work says:

    its not working for me. cuts the call off after 3 seconds.

  15. Mr. Pottersquash says:

    this goes along with the deal they made with Verizon. It cuts wired phones completely out. Get a fast 3G connection, no wires, no provider. You have your cell and thats it.

  16. Not Given says:
  17. VonAether says:

    Please update the initial post.

    While the new feature may provide free calls to anyone in the US and Canada, the feature itself is only available to US users. Canadian users are SOL.

    • lexsaur says:

      Really? I just tried it from England and it works fine, which is amazing because now I’ll be able to call my family in Canada for free.

  18. White Scorpion says:

    Is no one here aware of the Google/Verizon scheme? Boycott instead of supporting!

    • Minj says:

      Look into it more. There’s nothing bad about the talks between those two companies. Just a whole lot of FUD out there.

      • White Scorpion says:

        I’m surprised a consumerist reader would support Google at all. And you must think it’s ok for websites sent to the bottom of a search if they don’t line the pockets of Google/Verizon? Isn’t consumerist here to protect us from the harmful?

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I think you’re oversimplifying the matter a touch, while at the same time blowing it massively out of proportion.

  19. MrsLopsided says:

    The notice in my Gmail account says “Free calls to the U.S. and Canada in 2010″.

    Will they start charging in 2011?

    • CyGuy says:

      If they do, expect Domestic calls to cost just $.01 per minute, which is what Google subsidiary Gizmo5 charges. And that is only to landlines and cellphones. Calls to other Gvoice, Skype, and other SIP numbers are free.

      I would guess they are hoping to start charging for video calls made from computer to computer, or device to computer at some point when the tech is more mature – especially if the content is ‘mature’

  20. Skankingmike says:

    Please update this post to include the Mobile app

    http://www.google.com/mobile/voice/

    That’s the bigger news.

    You can get free Txt messaging and voice calling on your phone!

    You sign up get a new number and tell all your friends to only call you and txt you on that number. Which will also work on your computer or anywhere were you get internet and have access to gmail.

    I hope that this offering by Google puts a thorn in the side of Telecom people making them reevaluate their pricing models.

    • Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

      How is this bigger news? The Google Voice app has been out for a long time now and that still requires that you answer your phone to then be connected to the person on the other end.

    • CyGuy says:

      it will be bigger news when there is an actual iOS app to dial out, like there has been a Gizmo5 app for a while now. This is especially a problem for people trying to make calls from from an iPod Touch as I do with Gizmo. I have yet to get the Google Voice WebApp to work from my iPod Touch, but the Gizmo iOS app works great – for both making and receiving calls.

  21. hbkawachi says:

    Yes, it is. But it might be a good thing for Skype to have some competition, no? Plus there is no need for an additional app with this.

  22. buzz86us says:

    where is this? I have been trying to get this service since it was announced but it never comes up. I have installed the software but nothing happends for the call phone button.