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Google Technology

Google Officially Brings Voice To Gmail 179

siliconbits writes "Google has finally added voice support to its popular Gmail email service which means that users will soon be able to call landlines and mobiles worldwide for free or for extremely low prices. The announcement was made at a press conference in San Francisco in front of a few selected press members."
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Google Officially Brings Voice To Gmail

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  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:37PM (#33375270)

    Now my mom can call me right away to tell me she sent me an email.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:37PM (#33375274)
    To remove the annoying phone icon: settings>>chat>>google voice (disable outbound voice calling)
    • by Tacvek ( 948259 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @09:41PM (#33376756) Journal

      Is it just me, or has GMail strayed pretty far from its original purpose.

      It added chat, using Google Talk's XMPP servers.

      It recently added voice/video chat using Google Talk's chat protocols.

      It added that Buzz feature which is a micro-blogging service like twitter. (You can have your twitter posts become buzz posts, but you cannot subscribe to non-gmail user's twitter feeds, so it is not very useful).

      Now it added this talk feature, which is basically a web based VOIP system. You use the GTalk voice chat for in-network talk, this feature for PC to POTS, and optionally use a pre-established Google Voice account for POTS to PC.

      • by NemoinSpace ( 1118137 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @10:49PM (#33377132) Journal

        Is it just me, or has GMail strayed pretty far from its original purpose

        Not if you consider GMail's original purpose was to extend Google's marketing reach. People used to ask - Hasn't Google strayed pretty far from being a search engine?

        pretty much as always, you try and expand market share any way you can, even if you are the 181.4 kg gorilla in the room.

        • 181.4 kg gorilla

          On behalf of the Knights of Standards, Measurements and Practices, I object! What kind of pound unit is 453.5g? Surely not the combined mass of three african swallows!?

          (I suppose your thinking goes something like this:
          1) numerical errrors
          2) ???
          2.995) penny-shaving profit)

      • Not if you consider Gmail's purpose to be facilitating communication. I think it's getting better. bigger, and clunkier, and I'd rather some features were separated out, but it's still improving as a means of communication.
      • Is it just me, or has GMail strayed pretty far from its original purpose.

        Yes. It was created to be a web interface to a standard SMTP-based email account and should never be altered or updated to take advantage of shifting trends in communication.

      • Well, if you consider how Gmail actually has the potential to be a large part of its Apps for Business, it sure helps that they can now offer the ability to call a real phone from your computer. Plenty of companies that use Apps could also use this to make in-office calls and now calls to customers/vendors/partners in the real world. Selling their Apps perhaps has the best potential for a second stream of revenue aside from advertising, just like how Office is the 2nd stream to Microsoft's Windows OS.
  • YAY (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bobstreo ( 1320787 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:41PM (#33375342)

    and it works in Linux with just a plugin and a browser restart

    Now where's the android client?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You can download google voice app for Android from the Android Market. It integrates nicely with the dialer, letting you specify rules for when the call should be routed via Google Voice. On my phone I have it configured to dial all international numbers through GV.

      • I do this as well but there are some caveats. As is more-or-less typical of Android and Google products, it works great, except when it doesn't.

        Specifically, I call a number in Thailand at least once a day. The country code is 66. In my contacts the number is listed as +66###... which is how it must be to get routed through Google Voice. If you want to dial directly through your carrier, you'd put 011 instead of +, so 01166### (or something like that). Supposedly 011 and + are interchangeable, but that's ho

  • by mmcxii ( 1707574 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:41PM (#33375344)
    I send e-mail so I don't have to talk to people. It's the same reason I text.
  • encrytion issues (Score:5, Informative)

    by lazycam ( 1007621 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:43PM (#33375370)
    Last time I checked Google voice services did not support encryption. Unless they are talking about implementing security measures similar to Skype, I am not interested.
    • Re:encrytion issues (Score:5, Informative)

      by tukang ( 1209392 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:59PM (#33375526)
      Skype doesn't give you a free phone number and also doesn't allow you to make/recieve calls to landlines for free. Google Voice + Google Call can essentially replace a landline (except for 911) and if they bring this to android you could technically get a phone with only a data plan. I just tried it and it works nicely on linux. They should update the google voice extension so you can receive & make calls w/o needing to have gmail open but I'm sure that will come later. The call quality wasn't always great but overall it's a great addition that unlike buzz & wave is immediately useful to me.
      • Re:encrytion issues (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Recovery1 ( 217499 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @08:21PM (#33376258) Homepage

        Unfortunately the Google Voice part only works in the United States. You can still make phone calls out with it to Canada but no incoming calls or any of the features in Google Voice. I has a sad :(

        • Judging by Google's track record in that area, I expect Great Britain and Hong Kong to get it in two years, the rest of the world by five.(grumble).

        • by kypper ( 446750 )

          It actually works to/from Canada just great, so long as you signed up while it was still Grand Central.
          I suspect that this will be made available to us in the not so far future...

      • Re:encrytion issues (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @09:48PM (#33376800)

        Now you need to ask yourself WHY they're giving you these things for free (and if they're going to stay free). It's not free for them.

        I'd rather pay Skype the $4 a month, thanks. Not to mention Google Voice isn't even available.

        • I just hope google phone doesn't do everything ooma does, I just paid like $225 for that :)
        • Erm it says on the download page "free for 2010". I think the implication there is that it might not stay free. It still got my attention since my cell phone has crappy reception in my condo and I am incredibly cheap.
        • by N1AK ( 864906 )

          Now you need to ask yourself WHY they're giving you these things for free.... [].... I'd rather pay Skype the $4 a month, thanks. Not to mention Google Voice isn't even available.

          One assumes that you don't use Google Search then? The exact same argument is as relevant in both cases. They're giving it away for free because they believe it makes sense. Google is in the fortunate position to not need immediate payback to justify doing something. Much of the best technology invented revolved around research t

          • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

            Are you kidding? Google rakes in cash, immediately, on search. They offer that service specifically because it allows them to show you ads, and collect information about you. The ads are small and unobtrusive and the information is not particularly closely connected to anything in the real world, so of course I use Google search.

            How exactly do you put ads on a phone call unobtrusively? And phone calls ARE connected to some important real world items, such as phone numbers. Deleting cookies is a lot les

      • Even if you have a Skype number, you can't configure Skype to show your Skype number in Caller ID whereas I just tried calling via Google Voice does display my Google Voice number. This broadcasting of who I am is more important to me than the encryption issue for everyday use. And, I don't have a handle on Skype's encryption to trust it anyway...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Threni ( 635302 )

      How are you going to call landlines and mobiles with encryption? Have you got like 2 friends you've convinced to use it too?

    • Re:encrytion issues (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bcmm ( 768152 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:10PM (#33375652)
      Skype uses a closed, secret protocol. It may or may not be properly encrypted. There may or may not be intentional backdoors.
      • Re:encrytion issues (Score:4, Interesting)

        by LambdaWolf ( 1561517 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @09:02PM (#33376530)

        Skype uses a closed, secret protocol. It may or may not be properly encrypted. There may or may not be intentional backdoors.

        Furthermore, even if it is properly encrypted and there are no intentional backdoors, it is unlikely that the implementation is as secure against side-channel attacks as peer-reviewed software would be. In principle, no small, closed team of coders should be expected to be clever enough to catch every possible bug or weakness. Security through obscurity and all that.

        (And just because the last two Slashdot threads I read on the subject had commenters who misunderstood "security through obscurity", let me just head it off now: keeping a password or key secret is not security through obscurity. "No obscurity" means keeping nothing secret except the key—that is, the algorithms, protocols, and source code are all disclosed.)

        • /me plays Devil's Advocate:

          Just 'cause the crypto's closed-source doesn't mean that it's not lifted in its entirety from peer-reviewed software.

          • by olden ( 772043 )

            /me continuing that game:
            Just 'cause the crypto's lifted from peer-reviewed software doesn't mean it's used correctly.
            [RC4 is a good stream cipher -- yet WEP is an epic fail]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Actually, it's KNOWN there are back doors. Well, at least one. I can't remember which government gave it away, I think it was probably Germany. In any case, it's known that there is a back door, which at the very least government agencies of the alphabet soup kind have access.
    • What makes you think that Skype doesn't open your communications to third parties (governments for example)?

      • Even if they do, how does that invalidate GP's arugment? How is Skype's pseudo encryption worse than Google's no encryption? Most people are not important enough for the government to snoop, but not unimportant enough for some random guy at an internet cafe trying to grab CCNs/passwords/trade secrets from someone on a business trip in a foreign country...

    • I don't know about the VOIP portion, but Google Voice is https only for me. Maybe it's that I have the "always encrypt" option turned on in Gmail, but I thought that was deprecated at this point and they required all connections to be secure.

  • I doubt it, but I recall something about some voice service google providing using a standard method

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I dumped the traffic from a test call and I don't see any SIP.

  • Spam? (Score:5, Funny)

    by DWMorse ( 1816016 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @06:50PM (#33375446) Homepage

    At first, I kinda wondered if Gmail was going to call me and read my email to me.

    That's just what I need. Ring ring... "Greetings. We are pleased to inform you of our new pharmaceutical offerings in your area..."

    • and after the recent wireless furore...

      Ring ring... "Greetings. We are pleased to inform you of our new stock of haemorroid cream has just arrived at your local West Field pharmacy, just 400 yards south from your door step. Joes corner store that you will pass on the way is having two-for-one Coke Day."
  • Mobiles too? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Drakeness ( 1882280 )
    Well, if that's the news... I've heard about it some time ago, but I though it was only for internet conversation... You know, the Skype kind... But reading this, I think it's going to be really great =P...
  • by jDeepbeep ( 913892 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:09PM (#33375644)
    Also from today on /. Google testing voice calling in GMail [slashdot.org]
  • by Suddenly_Dead ( 656421 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @07:19PM (#33375770)

    I'm in Canada and this feature is working through Gmail for me, though it could just be a temporary glitch. I also got into voice.google.com immediately after making the first call (it only showed call history, wouldn't let me set up a Google Voice number), but I'm locked out again now.

    • by alexo ( 9335 )

      I'm in Canada and this feature is working through Gmail for me, though it could just be a temporary glitch.

      I'm in Canada and I can't see the phone icon anywhere.

  • by pedantic bore ( 740196 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @08:47PM (#33376434)

    How do they make money off this?

    Is someone going to be softly muttering advertisements in the background during my conversations?

    Will the advertisements change to track the subject of the conversation?

    Is this going to get really creepy, really quickly?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by xannik ( 534808 )
      I think this could help propel their social networking adoption rates as you will need to have a gmail account to sign up. I love the convenience of Buzz as I am a current gmail user, but Facebook obviously has the lion's share of the social networking market. If Google can get more people signed up to Buzz they can deliver more targeted advertisements as they learn more about the habits of their users through social networking. This further increases the value of AdSense and AdMob.

      Also, they serve up
    • by Torontoman ( 829262 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @11:52PM (#33377468)
      They make money by driving people into their product and disrupting other companies. It's awesome really how disruptive Google is to competitors. They're making a larger argument for getting rid of a landline and even in time a voice plan... hell... if wi-fi is available you don't even need a data plan just a tablet or laptop with wifi. Voila - free phone calls and you're even more in love with Google. It's a very disruptive scenario they've sprung on the telcos today. By increasing reliability and acquiring more behaviour from you - they know everything you do in another aspect of your life. It's easy with that info to target you with ads, or sell a connection with you to a company. **prediction** - this will interface with Google streetview some day. You'll be able to simply 'walk' down a street and click on a house or company to call. There goes all phone book / yellow pages cos. Businesses will be buying the virtual real estate on Streetview. GPS - Geolocation - you'll be able to simply ask your phone "Where is the closest (insert store here) and it'll dial that phone number for you.
      • have skype already . Have wifi already . Have maps which know local businesses already .so why are they doing this?they are building a network effect

        • Google's an American company, and while my mobile phone has all those things as well, that is because... it's a Google Nexus One. A very small percentage of phones, even smartphones, in the US will do everything that the parent suggested, although it seems that they aren't fully aware of what they can do these days.

          Anyway Google does make money off of me from Google Voice, because I make international calls and they charge for international calls.

    • One thing I know is that Google are drooling at the thought of all that realistic voice data. Look at Google Translate: It's become great, but it's still limited by the corpus: The further your sentence gets from the written word on the net, the worse the translation will be.

  • by mad.frog ( 525085 ) <steven@crinkli n k . c om> on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @08:52PM (#33376472)

    What, HTML5 isn't good enough? </snark>

  • When will this be on android phones? I want a data only plan, no reason to pay for voice minutes.

    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Good luck with that. Cell carriers know that their voice plans are dead weight now. Very profitable dead weight. Notice how the iPad has a data only plan and the sim cards are disabled so they won't work in a regular phone?

    • by olden ( 772043 )
      For Android, IMHO better options already exist.
      Get Sipdroid [sipdroid.org] + any SIP provider like CallWithUs [callwithus.com], justvoip [justvoip.com] (+ IPKall [ipkall.com] as DID) etc.
      Look Ma, calls over 3G to many countries for free or cheaper than big-brother-Google.
      • by nebular ( 76369 )

        Hmm, none of those options had free calls to Canada and the USA...

        Seems Google would still be cheaper

  • Next steps? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Lord_of_the_nerf ( 895604 ) on Wednesday August 25, 2010 @09:44PM (#33376780)

    2011: You wake to find Gmail techs installing a camera in your bedroom so people you have no intention of contacting again can watch you sleep.

    2014: Gmail now pays for a plane ticket for a relative/friend who you haven't talked to in a while to visit (based on how often you chat to them).

    2030: Gmail clones a soulmate for you (based on conversations you've had using it's service), and delivers it to your door.

    • Wow, cool, hopefully everything will go as planned!
    • 2011: You wake to find Gmail techs installing a camera in your bedroom so people you have no intention of contacting again can watch you sleep.

      No no, they're not sharing that data with anyone. They are only using it, completely anonymized, to build a model of sleeping patterns.

    • by VShael ( 62735 )

      2045 : Everyone's soulmate is given Order 66, and the human race is extinguished in 66 minutes.

      2046 : There is peace in the Middle East.

  • Great. Now I'll get spam and google ads related to the content of my last few phone calls.

    [calls Mum]

    [next email]

    "Hello, would you like a reminder service to tell you to make more phone calls?"

    ...hmm... not for me
  • We use phones up here too you know

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan