Once upon a time, to make a phone call, a person had to pickup a phone, dial a number, and wait for the person they were trying reach to pickup their phone on the other end. Then Skype came along, allowing people to talk to each other from one computer to the other. I used this quite a bit when I lived in England and wanted to reach out to my friends who were still back in the States. It was a heck of a lot cheaper than calling them on my cell phone, and had a better user experience for me than just sending off emails and waiting for them to be answered.
Of course, that was then. Today, thanks to Google, you can make phone calls and engage in video chat, straight from your Gmail account. And the good news is, only 1 person has to be at their computer. According to Google, you can now “call any phone right from Gmail.” So say it’s a gorgeous Saturday. You are stuck at the office, finishing up some work while your friends are at the beach. You have about an hour’s worth of work left, and you want to know where they’ll be when you’re done, and if they need any more beverages. Just click open your Gmail and give their cell phone a ring. And the best part is, if they’re on the beach anywhere in the USA or Canada, it’s free! According to Google, “calls to the U.K., France, Germany, China, Japan—and many more countries—(are) as little as $0.02 per minute.”
According to Mashable, one million calls were placed from Gmail in 24 hours (shortly following the official announcement last week). That’s a lot of phone calls…free phone calls.
So what do you think about the new Gmail feature? Are you going to use it to call your friends and family, or is it likely to be another Google flop (like Buzz, for instance)?