…i’m a flip-flopper.

GVcalling

I know I just did 400 words on how Google might be turning evil, and colluding with the telecom companies, but now I’m excited about a new Google feature that makes me seem like I have amnesia. Since the introduction Google Voice, fans have been asking for some kind of desktop, Skype like calling features so that you could make calls without even a phone. Last week, via their official blog, they announced exactly that. Now users can make free domestic and really cheap international calls directly from Gmail, and you can even receive calls!

All you need is some kind of microphone for your computer, assuming you already have speakers, and to install the voice and video chat plug-in for Gmail. I’ve actually used it several times in the last couple days and been pleased with how well it worked. I set up the same Bluetooth headset that I had been using for my cell phone to work with my desktop. Now when I sit down at my desk I disconnect it from my phone and connect it to my computer and open up Gmail in Chrome – all of my GV calls go directly to the browser and I can answer them there instead of using cell minutes. Using a computer to make and receive calls may not be as convenient as getting them on your handset, but those willing to put in the effort could really get away with a cheaper cell plan. I did have a few hiccups, and the calls seem to have a little lag right when connected, but I was able to get through a ten minute tech support call to Logitech with not troubles at all. It’s also a bit confusing to have a Google Voice inbox, where I can’t make calls, and a Gmail inbox, where I can, but can’t see incoming texts; however I’m sure there will be tighter integration in the future if it sees serious adoption by users. Is it a coincidence that this has been rolled out so close to so much bad PR from the recent weeks, maybe not. Perhaps they’re trying to send a message that they really are on the side of the users.

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