*Image courtesy of The Official Gmail blog
Google may well be on its way to take over the whole world, and one of the key weapons (read this article to understand what we mean) is the fact that Google starting offering free calls to any phone number (landline or mobile) in the United States, from Google Voice or from within Gmail. While Google Voice is yet to see an official launch outside of the United States, calling from within Gmail to US-based phones was previously possible from India only using a proxy or other “grey” solutions. Thankfully, not any more. Some thoughts and details await you past the “Read More” button below.
Don’t worry – you can relax, and stop frowning. This section is not to tell you “We told you it’s free, but it actually costs something”. Calls to the US and Canada are completely free from within Gmail. Yes. It’s true. Google also offers calls to other countries, a few are listed in the image below.
*Image courtesy of www.google.com/chat/voice/compare.html
You see the third country listed there? That’s our beautiful, fair India. And it’ll cost you 6 American cents to call any phone in this country from Gmail. That’s about Rs. 2.68/min. It sounds steep for someone already in India, but that’s very cheap if you are on a trip abroad and want to keep in touch with friends back home. All you’ll be needing is a voice chat-capable computer and a decent Internet connection. The full list of costs for calling phones around the world from within Gmail are available at the Google Voice website.
Now it works, now it doesn’t
Okay, when Google initially launched this back in August 2010, it was not working from within India without using proxies to fool Gmail into thinking that you were located in the US yourself. When Google announced the extension of these free calls till the end of 2011 (which happened in December), the article at The Official Gmail blog clearly states that it’s “currently only available to U.S. based Gmail users”. Yet, now, we are able to call quite freely. The thing is, there are times when we’ve not found the “Call phone” option in our chat list within Gmail. The same computer, on the same Internet connection, using the same Gmail account, but at another time and day is able to make the call. We really don’t know what’s going on here – but the fact is, if you do have the option inside your Gmail and there are friends in the US that you would like to chat with for free, go ahead and give it a shot.
Comparison with Skype
Call quality is not nearly as perfect as Skype. Skype mostly provides very good call quality. Calling from within Gmail to a person in the US – not as good. However, the advantage we see here is obviously the convenience and the cost of nothing. If you wish to make free calls from within Skype, you’re going to have to ask your friend to login to Skype. You can directly call your friend’s phone number, but you would have to purchase Skype credit to do that. Calling from within Gmail is completely free. How can you beat that? You can’t. It’s for jaw-dropping products like this that Google gets blamed for attempting to take over the world. Let us know in comments if you can or can’t make calls to US, okay? Thanks.