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Google enables phone calls from Gmail

Google has upped its game in the telephony space this week, by introducing new functionality to its Gmail service that allows users to make calls to phones.

The service is initially only available in the US and Canada, where calls to local destinations will be free for at least the rest of the year. Calls to other countries start from $0.02 per minute.

The feature is being rolled out as part of the Gmail Google Voice and Video plugin over the next few days and will be made available more broadly in the future.

Users with a Google Voice phone number will be able to make calls using this number as their identifier, as well as being able to receive calls inside Gmail. In some respects this will put Google toe to toe with other VoIP providers like Skype.

Earlier this year, after a year following its favoured, invite-only beta test pattern, Google made its Google Voice service available to anyone in the US.

The service is Google’s latest bid to shake up the establishment, and offers a single number that can be applied to existing accounts, be they home, work or mobile, as well as a number of other web-based features. It also offers free national calls and text messages.

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