I have never really used Google Voice and Video Chat before, but I recently played around with it when I noticed that it was embedded within Gmail. Google Voice and Video chat is VoiP service offered by Google that is similar to services like Skype.
There are several cool things about Google Voice and Video Chat, including:
- Ability to make PC to PC calls within Gmail, or iGoogle
- Your own phone number selected from a pool of numbers in your area code
- Support for voicemail, conference calls, and call forwarding
- Supported on both PCs and mobile devices
- Video calling support (similar to Skype)
Using Google Voice within Gmail is very easy. On the left hand side, under the ‘Mail’ group is the ‘Chat’ group. Under the ‘Chat’ Group, there is an option called ‘Call phone’ (as shown on the left).
When you click on the ‘Call phone’ option, a another window will pop up with a ten buttons resembling a phone. (shown below) This is the access point to making your free phone calls. You must make sure that you have downloaded the Google Voice and Video Chat plug-in.
To make a phone call, simply dial in the number you wish and start talking once somebody answers. Calls are free for national calls originating in the United States. For calls destined to international locations, minutes can be purchased from the Google Voice website by clicking on the dollar amount button.
For more information, Wikipedia’s Google Voice entry has more information. I have not tried using Google Voice on mobile devices, like smartphones or web-enabled digital devices (like the iPod Touch), but I do believe functionality exists for mobile devices.
Google Voice and Video Chat is another great option to add to your toolbox to keep communication costs low. Please comment if you have more information.