Google has launched yesterday night its Google Voice service, one which allows users to call via their Gmail interface, landlines and mobiles across the world either for free or for every cheap.
The service, which is seen by many as a competitor to Skype, may well be a building block for Google as it looks to construct (or rebuild) its own social networking website in a bid to challenge Facebook.
We've rounded up five things that will help you understand the new feature that Google is offering through Gmail.
(1) It still doesn't have a name
Google hasn't yet chosen a name for the service, it just calls it "call phone". It is actually a feature rather than a service and with no plans to introduce it as a standalone attraction, "call phone" is likely to remain just another within Gmail alongside "task".
(2) It has been accidentally rolled out to non US customers
Google has apparently allowed some of its customers outside the UK and we were one of the few lucky ones to get it AND make a call (earlier today). We had 10c worth of credit on ours and even if Google did disable the feature, it did leave the backend intact.
(3) Not available as stand alone
You cannot download and install any software that will allow you to perform the service. The nearest thing to it, Google Talk allows free calls between Google Talk users but not to traditional landlines and mobile phones. Will this change at some point in the future? Possibly not.
(4) Not the cheapest around
Google's VoIP service might be the cheapest for calling the US and Canada but it certainly is not the cheapest when calling other countries including France, UK and others. This is particularly true in territories where internet penetration is not high; dedicated VoIP services will almost certainly offer cheaper prices as they tend to have much lower running costs.
(5) QoS should be better than on most mobile phones
We briefly tested the service today during a 30 second call using a laptop and were quite surprised by the quality of the call, one which we found out to be better than on most mobiles. Mobile technology still uses poor quality audio whilst VoIP services like Skype and Truphone offer much better quality because they do not carry any legacy technology.