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Google allows phone calls from Gmail

Google promised free calls to US and Canada from Gmail for the rest of this year

Gmail users can make free calls to U.S. and Canadian phone numbers for the rest of 2010.
Gmail users can make free calls to U.S. and Canadian phone numbers for the rest of 2010.

Gmail users can now call telephones directly from their e-mail accounts.

The news, which was announced late last week, adds to Google's existing computer to computer voice and video chat services through Gmail.

It now promises free calls to U.S. and Canadian phone numbers for the rest of 2010, with low rates for calls made to other countries - calls to the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, Japan would cost as little as $0.02 per minute.

Google said making a call through its service works like a normal phone in that a user could click on the "call phone" option in their chat list in Gmail and type in the number or enter a contact's name.

"Dialing a phone number works just like a normal phone. Just click 'Call phone' at the top of your chat list and dial a number or enter a contact’s name," wrote Robin Schriebman, software engineer at Google, in a company blog post.

The feature is being rolled out to U.S. based Gmail users, with 'Call Phones' showing up automatically in their chat list but users will need to install the voice and video plug-in in order to use the new service.

"If you’re not a U.S. based user—or if you’re using Google Apps for your school or business—then you won’t see it quite yet. We’re working on making this available more broadly— so stay tuned!," added Schriebman.

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