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Summary:

When the new “make phone calls from Gmail” service was announced, I wasn’t expecting to see it any time soon in Google Apps. However, when I logged into one of my Google Apps accounts last night, the new option to “Call Phone” appeared under Chat.

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When Google offers a new service, it generally comes to Gmail first, and can take a while before it becomes available to Google Apps accounts. So when the new “make phone calls from Gmail” service was announced, I wasn’t expecting to see it any time soon in Google Apps.

However, when I logged into one of my Google Apps accounts last night, the new option to “Call Phone” appeared under Chat. This function appeared automatically, without any action by a Google Apps administrator.

The new service hasn’t yet appeared on any other Apps accounts that I know of. The account showing the new option is one that already had a Google Voice number associated with it, so it may be that existing Google Voice customers are getting the new service first.

I made several calls with the new service yesterday, and everyone found the sound quality to be very good. It certainly seems to be popular, since Google announced that one million calls were made in the first day of the service.

By the way, everyone with a U.S. Gmail (not Google Apps) account should now be able to dial out using the “Call Phone” option, even if you haven’t selected a Google Voice number. If you want to receive calls, you can find an option to “upgrade your account” at no charge using the “Google Voice” link in Settings, Chat.  Caution! Don’t try to upgrade your account if you are not in the U.S.

Have you tried the “call from Gmail” service? What do you think of it?

Related GigaOM Pro content (sub. req.): Report: The Real-Time Enterprise

  1. I tried it yesterday from my google apps account when I couldn’t find my phone – it worked very well!

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  2. I run a 2-person real estate advisory firm out of a small office in Downtown St. Petersburg, FL. We started using Google Voice a year ago and we have been very pleased with this free service and how it has simplified people getting in touch with us and leaving voice mail messages in individual voice mail boxes (rather than calling office, mobile and home) and then sending transcribed voice to text e-mails and text messages.

    As my confidence in the service grew, I’ve ruthlessly cut features and services from my Verizon office phone system. The ability to make calls directly thru my laptop rather than it needing to bounce to an office line will let me go from 6 lines to 1 land line (so I can keep my legacy phone # of 10+ years). This will reduce my bill about $250 a month. That $3,000 a year savings is meaningful to a small shop.

    Thanks, Google!

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    1. Charles Hamilton Saturday, August 28, 2010

      David,
      I’m glad that Google Voice is working well for you. Although GV doesn’t yet allow you to port an existing phone number to it, many other VoIP services do have this feature. I recently did this, and cut my phone bills by about 60 percent.

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  3. Tyler Wickiser Monday, August 30, 2010

    No integration for me yet :/

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    1. Charles Hamilton Tuesday, August 31, 2010

      It appears that the “Call Phone” option is only available from accounts that are testing the beta of the updated Google Apps suite. If you are interested in joining this test, there is a link to a request form from this Google blog post: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2010/05/more-google-applications-coming-for.html

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