Gmail Goes Beyond Email

Google is ever expanding their services. The target, now, is making Gmail more than just an email service. In Gmail, communication can occur through text, video, and voice. The service is built on XMPP, an open-source communication protocol also used in Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, Windows Messenger, and Skype.

On August 2, 2011, Google made an announcement in the Google Talk blog. Starting that day they would begin increasing their Gmail Voice (PC-to-PC and PC-to-phone) calling service globally, and lowering rates internationally.

Now, members can connect in 38 languages, over 150 countries, and 4 currencies. While calls within the United States and Canada are free currently, voice (PC-to-phone) calls to and from other countries offer low rates. Thank you, Google! Previously, the voice calling was fully implemented only in the United States and Canada. Then, it was extended to a few other countries, for a price. Now, we’re moving towards almost-free world-wide.

So, how do you access this nifty feature? In your Gmail account, sign-in to Chat, and you can see “Call phone”–with a little green phone icon–near the top of your Chat list. If you don’t see the icons, make sure that your country supports Google Talk (over 150 are supported, so them’s some good odds), the Google Talk chat and video plug-in is installed and enabled and configured in your browser to work with your microphone…and that is it. This is really simple. You should be all ready to connect with people on any device that contains Gmail, microphone, and speaker: PC, tablet, Blackberry, smartphone, or web-enabled cellphone.

Wait a minute! Is it Google Talk or Google Voice? Well, Talk is the chat interface, and Voice is the phone interface, but they dovetail neatly together in this case, even sharing a phone number if you choose.

Go on, now. Google Talk about it.

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