For Skype customers and just about anyone else who’s every typed phone numbers into a virtual dial pad, Gmail video and voice chat, even with its new ability to make free calls to cell and landlines, may warrant a big whoop. I had the dubious pleasure of retrieving voice mail through my email at some point in the late 1990s, so some of this telephony novelty has worn thin.
The biggest difference between the ancient branches on the email-voice evolutionary tree and the latest VoIP creations from Google, Skype and others is the Web and mobile calling, coupled with improved codecs. In other words, the overall technology has evolved in steps, not with a giant leap forward. It is slowly but surely achieving greatness.
There are already tens of million of existing Gmail users to talk and video chat with in direct computer-to-computer fashion. Google’s announcement last week to unite Google Voice (the service that rings all your phones) with Gmail and to throw in free outbound calls will probably add millions more. Most significantly, this service, is or will soon be available on Android phones as well.
Over the weekend, I tried Gmail’s existing video chat and made a free landline call. Conclusion: the new and improved Gmail service is a big deal for a number of reasons.Continue reading