Google has finally added voice support to its popular Gmail email service which means that users will soon be able to call landlines and mobiles worldwide for free or for extremely low prices.
The announcement was made at a press conference in San Francisco in front of a few selected press members.
Earlier, Robin Schriebman, Software Engineer at Google, wrote on the company's blog that "Given that most of us don’t spend all day in front of our computers, we thought, 'wouldn’t it be nice if you could call people directly on their phones?' Starting today, you can call any phone right from Gmail".
The VoIP-based service will apparently be available in the US for the time being but we've heard about some UK having access to it already.
Calls to the US and Canada - both to landlines and mobiles - from other countries will remain free until the end of the year without any connection fees while countries like Mexico, France and UK will be charged as little as 2c per minutes, that's roughly 1.2p.
Google users will be required to install a voice and video plugin for the service to work and the user's Google Voice number will be displayed as the outbound call number if already registered.
Interestingly, Google has integrated voice with the Google Chat interface and users can already search their Google contacts and make calls to them transparently. More about the service in the video below.