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Google announces new phone call feature

By C.J. CASTILLO
Aug. 27, 2010 at 3:27 a.m.
Updated Aug. 28, 2010 at 3:28 a.m.


On Wednesday, Google announced their latest new thing, a Gmail phone call feature. Within 24 hours, one million phone calls were made with this new service.

The new "Call Phone" feature, also called "Voice Calls from Gmail," launched by Google, allows U.S. users to make phone calls using their Gmail accounts. Using this service, you can make free calls in the U.S. and Canada. You can also make international calls at discounted rates, for as low as two cents per minute.

If you have a Gmail account and want to take advantage of this new feature, you have until the end of the year to get your local calls out for free, according to Google.

To begin making calls, you first must sign in to your Gmail account. Below the Google Talk sidebar, click on the "call phone" option. You may be prompted to install a Google Talk voice and video plug in before you can begin your call. A number pad will pop up, and you can dial the number you wish to call. You will need to have a microphone (or headset) to hear the caller.

After your call is dialed, the person you are calling will either see your Google Voice number show up (if you have set this up beforehand), or they will see the number 760-705-8888. The person on the other end of the call can choose to either answer or ignore the incoming call.

I know many of you are probably wondering, "Why do I want to use some software to make a phone call from a computer? After all, can't I make calls on my snazzy new smartphone?" According to Google, they have been testing their call feature 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."

There has been some talk about how Google's Call feature will be a Skype killer. Skype being one of the more popular VoIP services, with 124 million active users.

Only time will tell how popular Google's new call feature will be. Services like Skype have proven to be handy and beneficial for many, not to mention cheap, when it comes to making calls overseas. For more information and instructions on how to make phone calls from your Gmail account, visit gmail.com/call.

CJ Castillo is the interactivity editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can contact her at cjcastillo@vicad.com. Please send all correspondence c/o Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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