Merry Christmas, Gmail users! You've got a new present waiting for you!
Back in August 2010, Google first announced that it would be merging Google Voice directly into the browser via Gmail, thereby allowing users to make calls through Gmail on their phones, without having to be in front of a computer.
In a blogpost put up at the time, Gmail said that "calls to the U.S. and Canada will be free for at least the rest of the year." Now that half a year has turned into three and a half, as Google announced Wednesday that it will, once again, be continuing to offer free domestic phone calls in the United States and Canada to people who make phone calls through Gmail through 2013.
Here is the full, and fairly short, post from Google on Wednesday:
"Many of you call phones from Gmail to easily connect with friends and family. If you're in the US and Canada, you'll continue to be able to make free domestic calls through 2013. Plus, in most countries, you can still call the rest of the world from Gmail at insanely low rates," Mayur Kamat, Product Manager at Google, wrote.
Google put up the same post at the end of 2010, and at the end of 2011, making this something of an annual holiday tradition. (It does make you wonder if they will eventually just make the service free, and stop announcing the same thing every year.)
The service is simple to work: by downloading the Google Talk plugin, users can make calls to the United States or Canada for free, straight from Gmail. Like Skype, users can make phone calls straight from their browsers, wherever they have WiFi connections.
Just click “Call phone” at the top of your chat list and dial a number or enter a contact’s name.
Users still have to pay for international calls, but Google says its prices at, at least, half of what the "leading internet telephony provider" charges.
For example, a call to France will cost 10¢ a minute, compared to 20¢. A call to Germany will cost 10¢, compared to 25¢ and calling India will only cost 2¢, versus 9¢ a minute.
Google set up this service in order to rival Skype, with the main difference between the two services being that, with Google, users are able to call any phone, mobile or landline, for free. With Skype, though, free calls can only be made to other Skype accounts.
Google could not be reached for further comment.
(Image source: http://lifehacker.com)