Google introduced the highly disruptive free voice calling feature on Gmail to customers in the United States and Canada earlier this year. The service lets users to simply pick a contact or dial a number to start talking to them like they would with any regular phone. In addition to voice calling, the feature also allowed for video chatting and international calling at nominal rates.
The deal breaker was though that the free service was expected to expire by the end of this year. No longer. Google has revealed that they planned to extend the free voice calling functionality until the end of next year. In a recently published blog post, a Google spokesperson has written,
“When we launched calling in Gmail back in August, we wanted it to be easy and affordable, so we made calls to the U.S. and Canada free for the rest of 2010. In the spirit of holiday giving and to help people keep in touch in the new year, we’re extending free calling for all of 2011.”
Google appears to have rolled out a nifty little feature to their Gmail calling functionality that will let users record incoming voice calls with just a click of a button. This is pretty similar in functionality to the voice call recording feature that is available on Google Voice, only more convenient (Check out the chronology of all Gmail voice call news here.
Unlike Google Voice, where the user is required to press on a non-intuitive ‘4‘ to initiate a call recording, the feature on Gmail comes with a prominent record button above the dialpad that can be clicked on to start recording. Also, as it is on Google Voice, doing so will offer a notification to both parties that their call is now being recorded.
There are a couple of caveats at the moment though. Firstly, only incoming voice calls can be recorded. Secondly, this feature only works on those calls that are routed through Google Voice. That means, if the call is directly between two Gmail contacts, it may not work.
Do you see this functionality on your Gmail account yet?
There has been a lot of talk about Facebook launching their own email service next week. The buzz is already so high that the new “Facebook Mail” is touted to be the Gmail-killer. With Google omnipresent in our internet lives, it may be easily assumed that Gmail is the biggest email service provider at present and the tag “Gmail-killer” for Facebook’s email service could make it look like the service could immediately topple Gmail to get to the top of the table.
But the ground reality is pretty different. Gmail is not the biggest email service provider yet. It never was. A post here on Tech Crunchies last year put Gmail at number 5 in the American market. How are things now? Here are the numbers
1. Yahoo Mail : 72.8 million
2. Hotmail : 48.5 million
3. Gmail : 25.1 million
4. Inbox.com : 7.4 million
5. Me.com : 3.1 million
6. Outlook.com : 1.9 million
Interestingly, the study does not include MySpace and AOL Mail in the list. Ironically, these two services were at number 2 & 4 respectively in the list made last year. Wonder what happened to them!
A new bug in the Gmail 2.3 version that was released in September this year seems to have cropped up that prevents Android users from downloading attachments to their phone. This is a major issue that seems to be affecting a lot of Android users irrespective of the OS version they are running. To complicate things further, Google has conceded that it has no clue about the cause of this issue and that the company is still investigating the same.
As part of the diagnostic process, Google has now been inviting users to volunteer with the Android team in debugging the issue. You can find the form here. In a statement on the Google support forums, a Google engineer has noted,
“At this point, we’ve determined that in order to further investigate these attachment issues, we’ll need diagnostic information that’s unfortunately somewhat hard to get from your phone.”
Are you facing this issue on your Android phone? Tell us your phone model and problems faced in the comments below.
If you have been regularly checking your Gmail account over Mobile Safari on your iPhone or iPod Touch, you may have realized that the application loads new messages much faster than it used to. That’s because Google has just released a new version of the web application that is, in their words, snappier. This is not the only change that Google says it has made.
The new look Gmail app for Mobile Safari now also scrolls at a speed that is reflective of the swiping gesture. Make a quick swipe and you get down to the bottom of the list faster. Apart from this, the toolbars on top now stay fixed at their position unlike earlier times where they would float down and up after every scroll.
You can check these new changes right away on your iPhone or iPod Touch by hitting gmail.com on your mobile Safari. Do you like it?
As you may be aware already, Google recently introduced a new feature called Priority Inbox on Gmail. The feature intelligently segregates unread email messages into those that are important and those that are not and lists all these important messages under the Priority section. The initial reviews of this feature have been pretty positive though if you are looking for a way to disable the feature, you can check them out here.
1. Launch your mobile browser and type Gmail.com. This will launch the mobile version of Gmail on your phone
2. Tap or press the ‘Search‘ button on the windows. This may appear as a lens icon on your mobile phone.
3. Gmail will open a search field. On this field type label:priority in:inbox. In case you only want to check the unread messages, also add is:unread to the search field
4. Tap on Search. Gmail will now list all messages from your Priority inbox.
5. Most mobile browsers come with a bookmark option. Save this search results page on your mobile phone for quick access.
The process is complete. You simply have to launch this bookmark icon to check your priority inbox next time.
Google introduced a nice little feature late last month. The new ‘Call Phone‘ service was integrated with the chat widget on Gmail and allowed users to directly place a call to family and friends over the browser. What is interesting is that the service offers free voice calls inside USA and Canada with pretty cheap call rates to users elsewhere. The service is still being rolled out in a phased manner to users inside USA.
However, many users have been complaining that they are frequently noticing an error that reads “Cannot Complete Call” that stalls the phone calling process. According to Google, this is a known bug that the company is working on.
There is a workaround if you are eager to get started in the meanwhile – by upgrading your Google Voice account to a full account. Doing so will help you circumvent the prevalent bug until that is resolved. To upgrade your Google Voice account,
- Click the ‘Call Phone‘ button from the Gmail chat list
- The Call Phone window will display your current balance. Clicking on this link and further select ‘History‘ or ‘Add Credit‘
- You will be taken to your Google Voice account. Here, click on ‘Upgrade your account‘ button
- Complete the steps required to upgrade.
You are done. You will no longer see the ‘Cannot complete call‘ bug.
Google recently introduced a new feature on Gmail – Priority Inbox. The feature is pretty useful for those of you who have several hundreds of unread email and always find it difficult to sort through the list to check out the important messages. Google started rolling out the feature earlier this week and the Priority Inbox is now available on all the Gmail accounts.
However, for those users who do not get too many emails or who check unread mails fairly frequently, the new feature does not bring too much value. In fact, I found the service quite distracting. If you too find it the same way and are looking to disable the functionality, follow these simple straight-forward steps to disable Priority inbox in your Gmail account.
1. Click Settings on the top right hand side on your Gmail account
2. Click Priority Inbox
3. Select ‘Do not show Priority Inbox‘ and save the changes
Following up with what we wrote yesterday, Google has today announced that free phone calls to US and Canadian customers are now a reality with the new “Call from Gmail” service that will enable Gmail users to place calls to their friends and family in USA and Canada right from inside their Gmail window.
Calls to international callers are possible too and according to the Google blog are priced extremely competitve. We are talking of rates as low as $0.02 a minute. Of course, the rates differ according to the destination country. Nevertheless, Google has indicated that they shall strive to keep them as low as possible.
The feature is tightly integrated with Google Voice though Gmail has indicated that the feature will also be made available to users without a Google Voice number.
Will this feature be made available to users outside the US? This is Google’s wording. Now make your inference
“We’re rolling out this feature to U.S. based Gmail users over the next few days, so you’ll be ready to get started once “Call Phones” shows up in your chat list (you will need to install the voice and video plug-in if you haven’t already). If you’re using Google Apps for your school or business, then you won’t see it quite yet. We’re working on making this available more broadly – so stay tuned!”
Sometime back, there were reports that Google was working on integrating their Google Voice VoIP functionality with Gmail in order to bring a voice calling functionality to their email client. Now there are more indications to suggest that this could in fact be real.
A fresh report on CNET notes from sources that Google has been testing a new feature that will bring a phone calling option to the GTalk interface that is available on Gmail. According to screenshots produced on the report, the service being tested will allow Americans to make free phone calls to USA and Canada using the service while international rates shall be subsidized.
The functionality itself is not exactly new and is already available on Google Voice. However, this is the first time that Google has been attempting to integrate three of their popular platforms – Gmail, GTalk and Google Voice into a single platform.
Google Voice is still not available outside the United States. So it is pretty obvious that this service, even if it becomes available, will require users to tie their Gmail service to a Google Voice account before the feature can be made available.