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Google Testing Voice Calling In Gmail 114

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.
Tootech writes "Google could be adding the ability to make phone calls from the Google Chat interface. Google is testing a Web-based service within Gmail that will allow users to place phone calls from their in-boxes. It's launched from the Google Chat window on the lower left-hand side of a Gmail page and allows users to place and receive calls from within their contacts through a user interface that strongly resembles the one used in Google Voice."
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Google Testing Voice Calling In Gmail

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  • Finally (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gedw99 (1597337) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:42AM (#33368898)

    this is great news. anyone know if it will be global, and not just US based ?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Superken7 (893292)

      Yep, I am still waiting for google voice to be available over here...

      I don't like it when they roll out new products which are only available in certain countries. Checkout (android paid apps) and voice for instance :(

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mark72005 (1233572)
        Personally, I found Google voice to be underwhelming. While the feature set is nice, as is the convenience, the sound quality is not great on the voicemail. I also had several people report that (while I was receiving some messages) they would sometimes be routed to a message that said my mailbox was not set up.

        I quit and went back to using the regular carrier service, I need more reliability...
    • Re:Finally (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ironhandx (1762146) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @11:26AM (#33369450)

      Its great news, and it isn't.

      I for one use chat so that I don't have to talk to anyone... including the option to talk to the person isn't making my day any better.

      This is a very useful calls for cheap feature, but I hope they add a way to disable it. Maybe a sort of "mute" button but the mute hides your ability to talk to the other person.

      I know that sounds anti social, but I spend a good portion of my day glued to a phone for business reasons. I don't feel like being glued to one again at night for family reasons.

      • by olyar (591892)

        The existing version of chat has an option to do audio chat with another Gmail user.

        Starting a voice chat requires a separate connection hand shake. So I can be text chatting with someone and if they try to move to voice and I don't want to, I just don't answer the call. If you need an excuse, it's that you don't have a microphone on your machine, or whatever.

        My guess is that this will work in a similar fashion.

    • this is great news. anyone know if it will be global, and not just US based ?

      For now, it is U.S. based. From the GMail Blog [blogspot.com]:

      We’re rolling out this feature to U.S. based Gmail users over the next few days

  • Perhaps Google takes this lesson from Wave's failure -- merge products together, don't dev them out on an island where they won't be used.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Superken7 (893292)

      except for buzz, where everybody turned it off because it interfered with the GMail experience.

      And BTW, wave.google.com has been a failure, wave as a technology and protocol still rocks.
      GMail, docs and other google products are being reworked to have wave technology under the hood, and companies are starting to use the wave protocol and its technologies to deliver rich collaboration.

      • GMail, docs and other google products are being reworked to have wave technology under the hood, and companies are starting to use the wave protocol and its technologies to deliver rich collaboration.

        *Citation Needed*

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:58AM (#33369164)

        except for buzz, where everybody turned it off because it interfered with the GMail experience.
        And BTW, wave.google.com has been a failure, wave as a technology and protocol still rocks. GMail, docs and other google products are being reworked to have wave technology under the hood, and companies are starting to use the wave protocol and its technologies to deliver rich collaboration.

        BINGO!! I've got Bingo!

      • This isn't buzzwordy enough. Where am I being enlightened about the synergy I'll gain from using wave?

        • by weszz (710261)

          I don't know, I think the excitement that he unveiled was perfectly credulous. We need to incorporate it into the vision as we strive for excellence in our everyday existence. THAT is how you will utilize synergy to its fullest potential to enhance your value to the bottom line. This is nanotechnology age excellence.

    • Perhaps Google takes this lesson from Wave's failure -- merge products together, don't dev them out on an island where they won't be used.

      See it as merging email with phone, and it won't work.
      But... see it as merging chat with phone, and it's alright.

  • I bet this will go over like a lead balloon with their Android partners.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by darkmeridian (119044)

      Why would it? Making a phone call from your computer has always been available using Skype. Gmail Voice would not be creating a new market. Perhaps it would widen the market but it wouldn't be a completely new threat to cell phones. Anyway, Android is allowing cellphone manufacturers to get in the game against iPhone. Before Android, it didn't seem like anyone had a chance against the Blackberry/iPhone juggernauts. Now all the best non-iPhone/Blackberry devices are based on Android.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iammani (1392285)

        Making a phone call from your computer has always been available using Skype.

        Available, yes. Free, no!

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ceoyoyo (59147)

          Insanely cheap. And ad free. Google's free services are ad supported. If you don't want ads, you have to pay. So precedent says you'll have two choices - pay for voice calling or put up with ads when you make calls.

        • Get Google voice. Then go to SIPGate and get a phone number. Install FreePBX on a cheap used computer you have lying around. Add an unlocked Linksys pap2 VOIP adapter. Plug in a phone. Set FREEPBX to work with GV and your number from SIPGate. Tell your VOIP adapter to work with FreePBX.

          Works wonders and operates like a regular phone except without paying $30.00 a month in charges. Or using FreePBX's offering to get unlimited trunks for $25.00 a month. You can even set up extensions throughout your h

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mauriceh (3721)

        But Skype and Fring sold us out on VOIP calling on Android.
        Now to do Skype on Android you have to be on Verizon.

  • This is great news! Now I'll be receiving ads for cheap pharmaceuticals on my voicemail. That'll be ever so much more convenient.
    • Not sure why (Score:3, Informative)

      by jDeepbeep (913892)
      Calls would only be being placed with those in your contacts book. Your contacts would have to be poisoned first somehow, and not everyone who emails you is put into contacts unless you compose mail to them, or reply to them (ergo creating a discussion).

      PS: in a literal mood, but i did recognize you were being humorous ;)
    • So it will be like the golden age of telemarketing again, before all those pesky "Do Not Call" registries....
      • Except for the fact that there's a lovely "Spam" button that will send the callers to a custom message, I have a fun message set up for them.
  • by perpenso (1613749) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @11:10AM (#33369278)
    The real question is how will they tie this into targeted advertising (their real business)? Is it just a screen where they can display ads based on the personal profile they have already developed or do/will they use voice recognition to do keyword searches based on conversation content? This is not necessarily tinfoil hat territory, the already do this with gmail. The text of a gmail message is scanned(*) for keywords so that they can do contextual (targeted) ads on your gmail page. Voice recognition is a difficult but interesting and fun research area that might appeal to some at google. It might be interesting to keep an eye on the end user agreement.

    "Ad targeting in Gmail is fully automated, and no humans read your email in order to target advertisements or related information. This type of automated scanning is how many email services, not just Gmail, provide features like spam filtering and spell checking. Ads are selected for relevance and served by Google computers using the same contextual advertising technology that powers Google's AdSense program." http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=6603 [google.com]
    • Voice recognition might be an option, but I think it's more likely that they'll get their revenue from charging for non-Gmail-to-Gmail calls (calling "real" phones) and attracting more users to Gmail (and thus Gmail's targeted advertising) with the new feature.
      • by perpenso (1613749)

        Voice recognition might be an option, but I think it's more likely that they'll get their revenue from charging for non-Gmail-to-Gmail calls (calling "real" phones) and attracting more users to Gmail (and thus Gmail's targeted advertising) with the new feature.

        I generally agree with respect to the short term. However I think it has less to do with "creepiness" and more to do with the current state of voice recognition software and the hardware requirements of such software. Things that time and money can overcome. Like personal phone conversations, personal email is generally considered private. Scanning an email for ad keywords has a creepy component to it also and they have shown a willingness to cross that line.

    • Voice recognition is a difficult but interesting and fun research area that might appeal to some at google.

      It sure is. Take a look at my last transcribed voicemail from Google Voice. (scrubbed for my name)

      Hey **** HEB anything I do have my pen on me And I was stopping with Lia, emptied a Mac said paper cut, give me the following your friends with the Good day Bye. Bye. And. And then I got home and I saw your message, anyway. Dan that we met you. I would've been paid. But we are debt for beach tonight. If you are but she said she wants to start. What wanna start early early. So, I'm not sure what what that means, but I don't know, probably like. Talk to you Give me a call on my side it 3000 and voicemail. Bye.

      • Easy...

        Custom Mac Emptying Service - Having trouble emptying your Mac? Click here for 15% off!

        Beach Mortgages - Special mortgage offers for people in extreme debt! Beaches, wetlands, and lakes!
    • by ArcherB (796902)

      Voice recognition is a difficult but interesting and fun research area that might appeal to some at google.

      It's hard to wreck a nice beach.

  • by eviljolly (411836) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @11:27AM (#33369464) Journal

    I've been using Google voice as my primary number for over a year now. It has it's downsides, but for a free service it's great. I like that I'm not tied into a single phone or carrier. No matter where I am, as long as I have a phone I can set it to receive calls.

    I don't know how much I would even use calling built into Gmail, but I surely won't complain about added functionality. The problem I've found with using computers as phones is that you are tied sitting down in one location, most likely stuck with a headset on since using speakers would result in lots of echo. Applications like Teamspeak and Ventrilo make sense because usually when you're using them, you're already at a computer.
     

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by eviljolly (411836)

      *its

      I wish Slashdot had a grace period for editing comments, because this is really bugging me now :/

    • The problem I've found with using computers as phones is that you are tied sitting down in one location

      Are you trying to make me believe there is life beyond my chair?

      • Well, last time I checked, the mold on your basement walls still counted as life. So yes. Beyond that, it gets hypothetical.
    • You're not tied to a single phone or carrier with a regular number, either.

      And there's nothing wrong with "it's".

      "Slashdot has Slashdot's downsides - it has it's downsides."

      The "rule" about possessive pronouns is baseless. It is an attempt to avoid ambiguity, though the rule only applies to pronouns, not nouns in general. The rule is only able to exist because pronouns take different forms based on being singular or plural or being an object or a subject ("it" vs "they", "her" vs "their"). Regular nouns

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      I've never had an issue with echo when using speakers and a mic for VOIP. I'm not sure whether it's a hardware or software solution, but speakerphones have been a solved problem for a long time now, especially beyond computers. Where machines exist that have that problem, sure, you'll need a headset, but I've never burdened myself with that sort of setup.

    • We deal with a lot of international clients and right now Skype offers us the best deal of easily being able to acquire local phone numbers for our clients to call without paying huge routing fees, etc.. Having to sit in front of a computer used to be the problem until Skype for iPhone was released. Still had to be in wifi range at the time and logged into skype on the iphone, but if you knew a call was scheduled, you could take it on the phone. Now, however, with the multitasking Skype app and calls ove

    • I don't know how much I would even use calling built into Gmail, but I surely won't complain about added functionality. The problem I've found with using computers as phones is that you are tied sitting down in one location, most likely stuck with a headset on since using speakers would result in lots of echo.

      Lots of people already make phone calls while sitting in front of a computer -- and use the computer while making the phone call. In those cases, not needing to go to a separate device to place the ca

    • by jbarr (2233)

      I don't know how much I would even use calling built into Gmail, but I surely won't complain about added functionality. The problem I've found with using computers as phones is that you are tied sitting down in one location, most likely stuck with a headset on since using speakers would result in lots of echo. Applications like Teamspeak and Ventrilo make sense because usually when you're using them, you're already at a computer.

      I think you misunderstand the technology. When you initiate the call from withi

      • by jbarr (2233)

        Actually, I stand corrected. It appears that the "Call phone" feature being added into Gmail requires a "Voice plugin" that would require you being tied to the computer after initiating the call. (http://www.google.com/chat/voice/)

  • Yo Dawg (Score:4, Funny)

    by halfaperson (1885704) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @11:42AM (#33369654) Homepage
    I heard you like to chat, so we put a chat in your chat so you can chat while you chat.
  • in-box? (Score:1, Troll)

    by CrashandDie (1114135)

    The 90s called, they want their dash back.

  • If you could tie your google name to your google voice number, then instead of people getting your phone number, they could click on your user name, and then select call, it rings your phone, then when you pick up, it calls the other person. If that's the case, that would rock!
  • Kids today all think that their phones are basically just for text messages, not voice calls.

    Now they'll think e-mail is for voice calls, not text messages.

    What's next? Using the refrigerator to cook food and the microwave to store it?

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @12:48PM (#33370656) Homepage

    The thing I don't get is that they don't have any support for SIP (well, there is Gizmo, which is closed to just about everybody). They're inventing fancy web-interfaces for voice calls (anybody know if they work without flash?), but they can't support SIP - a protocol specifically designed to handle these kinds of situations. Indeed, if they used SIP and you ended up calling somebody else using SIP they could save all the bandwidth by directing the phones to just talk to each other.

    It seems like Google is tending to take the MS route - they don't just want to provide a service, they want to control how you can access it. Sure, some of their products are more open - maybe they just can't figure out what kind of company they want to be.

    Google - please just give us a SIP interface. I don't care if you even advertise it - just bury the settings in some help page and everybody else will build the front-ends for you...

    • by jqh1 (212455)

      but they can't support SIP - a protocol specifically designed to handle these kinds of situations

      Can't, don't, or don't yet? With google voice, they're two trivial steps away from letting wifi capable phones call and receive calls anywhere in the US (and probably elsewhere) for free, with no SIM card installed, even - 1) set up a SIP gateway and allow (android/iOS,etc. or computer based) softphones to connect it to it using Google's existing authentication bindery, 2) allow Google Voice users to direct calls to the gateway (and 3), I guess, create user interfaces (Android, etc.) for making calls that

      • by jqh1 (212455)

        btw the interface just popped up in my gmail account, so I tried calling my cell phone, and the caller ID on my cell phone showed my Google Voice number, so perhaps these services aren't so distinct. Maybe a gmail user who doesn't have a Google Voice account could chime in.

        • I don't have Google Voice since I live in the great white north. Caller ID shows the number as 1-760-705-8888.
      • by natehoy (1608657)

        Google already provides this. They have specific support for Gizmo.

        Google bought Gizmo a while back, and I have a Gizmo account (I happened to have mine before the buyout, but my Google Voice account is also a migrated Grand Central account from before Google bought out Grand Central, so Google buying all of this out had no effect on me at all).

        Gizmo is integrated with my Google Voice account, all free. Works great. I have a standard Linksys VoIP box that I bought that hooks into Gizmo's SIP gateway and

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          Correction: My apologies, I didn't realize they weren't accepting new users for Gizmo yet. Maybe that's what the Gmail launch is all about.

    • The thing I don't get is that they don't have any support for SIP (well, there is Gizmo, which is closed to just about everybody). They're inventing fancy web-interfaces for voice calls (anybody know if they work without flash?)

      AFAIK, the Google web interfaces are all HTML+CSS+JS.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      "It seems like Google is tending to take the MS route - they don't just want to provide a service, they want to control how you can access it."

      Of course they do. Google is an advertising company. They have no interest at all in providing services to you, they want to provide ads. Everything else is just the means of getting you to look (listen in future?) to the ads.

    • Well, to think from their perspective... if they allow a service that costs them plenty and is already free to go out of their control, how are they ever going to monetize it?
      Don't get me wrong I would love to have a GUI client on my computer to let me call internationally at Google's rates, but then the free calling to US may disappear since they can't pair it with AdSense.
    • by KXGBD3C0 (770896)
      What is the protocol @ gmail phone? What sort of external phone (other than a mike in the sound card) can one use with this new sevice?
  • Just compiled the latests asterisk from SVN and it WORKS! All my friends can call me at normal handset! I can now call my asterisk from GTalk! At zero configuration! RIP SIP! We barely knew ye... For technically minded: http://svn.digium.com/svn/asterisk/team/phsultan/gmail-voice-video [digium.com]
  • So what happens now that two of the 3 points they used to defend themselves against ATT [zdnet.com] are gone?
    • One of two things: 1) They give up the fight, which is kind of unlikely. 2) They points out that they still have one point, and money changes hands in the hope they can continue defending themselves.
  • "Google is testing a Web-based service within Gmail that will allow users to place phone calls from their in-boxes."
    • by xenapan (1012909)

      I dont know about you but my inbox has google search in it. Therefore its all knowing. Or at least all web searching.

  • I got the call phone in my gmail account. Does everybody or are they just giving it out to a few? I can call for free to the US and Canada, and they have pretty low rates for calling internationally, I every country I would ever want to call to, and more...
    • It seems haphazard, it's available on 2 of my 3 Gmail accounts and it shouldn't even be on any as I'm in the UK!
  • I've got 3 Gmail accounts (am in the UK) and it's there in 2 of them but not the other, which is kinda odd. It was only supposed to be on some accounts in error and "briefly" ... but mine is still there days later. Oh well, I'm not paying for the phone calls so I'll keep using it until they realise and turn it off I guess?

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