Google is all set to allow its users to make phone calls from its e-mail service, Gmail. The move will intensify competition in the Internet telephone space.
With the new facility, Gmail users will be able to make landline as well as mobile phone calls from their e-mail accounts.
“Given that most of us don't spend all day in front of our computers, we thought, wouldn't it be nice if you could call people directly on their phones? Starting today, you can call any phone right from Gmail,” Google said in a blog post.
The Internet giant's offering would take the competition directly to Skype, which is one of the most successful Internet telephone service providers. Going by estimates, Skype has around 560 million registered users, and out of them, over eight million are paid customers.
Currently, Google offers free voice and voice calls for Gmail users. The entity launched its call management programme, Google Voice, this year.
“Calls to the U.S. and Canada will be free for at least the rest of the year and calls to other countries will be billed at our very low rates,” the blog post noted.
Users have to shell out as little as two cents a minute for calls to countries such as the U.K., France, Germany, China and Japan.
According to Google, Calls to India would be charged at six cents a minute.
For using the facility, users have to click ‘Call phone' option in the Gmail chat list and then enter the contact number.
Google has been testing the new feature internally and found it to be useful in many situations, “ranging from making a quick call to a restaurant, to placing a call when you're in an area with bad reception,” the blog post said.