Google Voice Gives Gmail Enhanced Chat Capabilities
Article by George Norman
On 26 Aug 2010
Windows users have been able to voice and video chat via Gmail for quite a long time now – since 2008 if memory serves me right. All Windows users had to do to enjoy this functionality was to download the voice and video plugin for Gmail. As of this month, the same functionality has been rolled out to Linux users as well.

Google has now announced that Gmail’s chat capabilities have been enhanced thanks to Google Voice - this time it is available for Windows and Linux users. What the Mountain View-based search engine giant announced is that you can make calls to landline and mobile phones from within Gmail. The plugin that allowed you to voice and video chat with other Gmail users now allows you to call landline and mobile phones.


“Google Voice lets you manage all your phone communications and seamlessly make and receive calls on any of your existing phones. But what if you don’t have your phone with you? Or what if you’re in a place with poor cell phone reception, or you’re traveling internationally and don’t want to incur expensive roaming charges? Wouldn’t it be great if you could use your computer to make or receive calls? Starting today you can use Gmail to receive or place Google Voice calls,” announced Software Engineer, Nick Foster.

There are many things that make Google Voice an interesting service. The Google Voice number covers all your other numbers, so when someone calls your Google Voice numbers, you can set it up so that all your phones ring – your mobile phone, your other mobile phone, your landline, and so on. With Google Voice you can make free calls and you can send text messages to the US and Canada free of charge (you can also make international calls – not free, but for low prices). You also receive notifications about new voicemail messages via SMS for free, and you get voicemail transcriptions.

But I digress. Getting back to the topic at hand, here are some additional details you need to know about:
- You can call landline and mobile phones free of charge only in the US and Canada. Calls to the US and Canada will remain free at least for the rest of the year, said Google. Google Voice’s small rates will be applied for international calls.
- Please note that this feature is being rolled out gradually to all Gmail users.
- If you already have a Google Voice number and someone calls it, you can answer within Gmail. Additionally, calls made from Gmail will display your Google Voice number as the outbound caller ID.
- This feature is available for Windows, Mac and Linux users.

Tags: Linux, Google, Gmail, Voice and video chat, Landline calls, Mobile phone calls
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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