Google held a press conference today to discuss their newest feature: the ability for people to place VoIP phone calls with Gmail accounts through Google Voice integration.
The company appended the feature to the Google Chat window, which has previously allowed Gmail users to chat with their contacts.
Starting today, there will be a call/dialer function that will be accessible to all people with Gmail accounts. The feature is fully integrated with peoples’ email contacts, allowing them to call other Gmail users by selecting their names and pressing call.
Users can call people who are not sitting at their computers too. According to a Gmail Blog post today, people can call any phone from Gmail by dialing on a computer-based keypad. The blog says calls to the U.S. and Canada will be free, while calls to other countries will be billed.
“We’re rolling out this feature to U.S. based Gmail users over the next few days, so you’ll be ready to get started once “Call Phones” shows up in your chat list,” the blog says. It adds that users who wish to use the service will first have to install the voice and video plug-ins.
The service is similar to Skype, except that it’s integrated with email and charges for cross-country connections.
Google will sell its own credits for the program through Google Checkout, a shopping-cart application that users will have to pre-pay through for international calls.