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Free VoIP – Google releases Google Voice October 8, 2010

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in VoIP catagory.
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If you’re a Gmail user like I am, then I’m sure you’ve noticed by now the new “Call Phone” option sitting in your Gchat buddy list. A few weeks ago when this add-on was first released, the story was being covered by pretty much anyone even remotely interested in IP communications. In fact, I spent a good part of that morning reading the predictions and theories regarding Google’s motives from leading analysts and VoIP experts (probably not the best use of my time). Now that the majority of the buzz has died down, let’s take a look at the feature, and test out how well it actually works.

The add-on itself is very cool, but nothing extraordinarily innovative. All it really does is turn your email inbox into another user agent for the Google Voice service. If you currently do not have a Google Voice account, then you’ll only be able to make outbound calls. Google will assign you a completely random number-I believe the first time I tried to make a call, it assigned me a number in California, even though I’m located in New York City.

If you’re looking to be able to receive calls in Gchat (and for a little more control), I would highly suggest signing up for Google Voice. For those of you completely unfamiliar with Google Voice, think of it as a call forwarding service. You pick out a Google phone number to link to the different phones in your life. When someone dials your Google number, the call is forwarded to where you want it to go based on your Google Voice settings. To receive calls in Gmail, you would want to forward calls to your Google Chat window.

For a couple of days, I made it a point to use Gmail (with a headset of course) just to see how it measured up against our home phone and the many softphones that I have installed on my laptop. Overall call quality was not bad-I would say that it’s about on par with a regular phone call, if not a little better. It is nowhere near the high definition audio I get on my Polycom softphone, but I can’t complain too much seeing as how I was using a free user agent with free service (at least until the of the year). I also suspect that people on the other end of the line suffered more than I did. In one instance, I tried using Gmail for an hour-long conference call and while I could hear everyone just fine, there were times when the call would mysteriously drop at around 30 minutes in. I have the same problem with my AT&T cell phone so I am used to it.

Sometimes after a call ends, you’ll get a little rating window that asks you about the overall call quality. It’s a hopeful sign that Google is at least taking in feedback and perhaps even using it to improve this service.

Currently you can only make and answer calls from the Gmail window, and integration with existing Google services is a little weak/nonexistent. While this is nowhere near a Skype-killer at the moment, you can bet that Google will soon be analyzing the exorbitant amounts of data they get from this to plan their next move, whatever that may be. If anything, Google is again throwing IP communications into the limelight and that’s a good thing whichever way you look at it.

Try it and have fun…let me know how your results turn out.

Joe Buck, N.C.E.

Read more: IP Phone Spotlight: Google Voice in Gmail – FierceVoIP http://www.fiercevoip.com/story/ip-phone-spotlight-google-voice-gmail/2010-09-20?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal#ixzz11lkPad9K
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