Tag Archives: Screen callers

Free Phone Calls From Gmail – Yes It’s Free, But Is It Any Good?

image If you live in North America, you’ll know that “FREE” is one of the most overused, and undefined words – ever. Free, has so many variables attached, that it’s virtually worthless as a descriptor.

If you don’t live in North America, it’s still probable that the same conditions apply where you live, as well.

Despite the fact that “free”, is a very uncertain term, and despite the fact that we’ve all aware of that old expression – “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”, advertisers continue to appeal to our lower instincts by crafting entire campaigns around “FREE”.

So last week, when Google announced “free” phone calls to “actual phones”, not just PC to PC (including long distance), from within Gmail, in both Canada and the US, my natural sense of skepticism kicked in.

Being the old cynic that I am, I immediately thought –

It’s got to be a hassle. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong. Google Voice is the easiest VOIP application I’ve ever used. Even easier to use than my long time favorite VOIP application – Skype.

Voice quality has gotta suck. Wrong again! Voice quality beats my home phone quality – hands down. In fact, if you’re a speakerphone user, I’ll wager that this application will be an improvement.

It isn’t really free. By now, I was a little tired of being wrong but, I was wrong again! Google’s free phone calling feature in Gmail is, well, FREE – at least until the end of 2010.

Setup couldn’t be easier. Highlight “Call Phone”, in your Gmail chat menu.

image

Then, just download and install the voice and video application from the next screen. The installation app will automatically calibrate your devices. Alternatively, you can choose to self calibrate.

image

Following installation, you’ll notice that the “Call phone” icon has changed to green – from the previous gray.

image

Clicking on the Call phone icon will open a phone keypad, as the following screen capture shows.

image

Choose your Country, (Canada or the US for the moment), input the phone number – either with your mouse, using the onscreen keypad, from your keyboard, or your Gmail contact list. Click on “Call”, and voila! – you’re connected. Incidentally, the application will automatically save your call history.

image

Incoming calls:

The service provides a US phone number (not yet available in Canada – but it’s on the way), chosen by the user from available numbers in selected area codes.

Requirements:

US or Canadian based Gmail users only – for the time being.

A Gmail account.

Web Cam and Speakers (I found this the easiest setup), or

Microphone and Speakers, or

Headset.

Download: From within Gmail.

Features:

Explore some of the most popular features of Google Voice by watching these videos:

image

  • Overview
  • Voicemail transcription
  • One number
  • Personalized greetings
  • International calling
  • SMS to email
  • Share voicemails
  • Block callers
  • Screen callers
  • Mobile app
  • Conference calls

I must admit, I’m very enthusiastic about this new service from Google. I find it very convenient, and it’s already saved me some cash in long distance fees.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

13 Comments

Filed under Business Applications, Communication, downloads, Freeware, Gmail, Google, Google Software, Interconnectivity, Software, Video Apps, Video Calling, VOIP, Windows Tips and Tools