Google made quite a splash last year when it introduced voice calls, to any phone, in Gmail. It hasn't really pushed the feature, perhaps Google is afraid of irking the mighty carriers which sell its Android phones too much, but Gmail's size is enough for it to get quite a lot of usage.Google is now expanding the feature internationally, with support for 38 more languages, outside of the US.
The call feature also supports several currencies now and, while calls are not free like they are in the US, Gmail has some reasonable prices.
"Last year, we made it possible for those of you in the U.S. to call any mobile phone or landline directly from Gmail and starting today, we are making this available to many more of you who use Gmail outside the U.S. by offering calling in 38 new languages," Pierre Lebeau, product manager in the Gmail Team, announced.
Users that want to call their friends or colleagues from Gmail can now use four different currencies for their credit, US dollars of course, but also Euros, British pounds and Canadian dollars.
Google has also lowered the rates, regardless of the currency you use. Calls to mobile phones Germany, France and the UK are $0.10 per minute, or 0.08 Euros per minute.
Landline calls in many places are only $0.02 per minute and the same goes to any call made to India or China.
Google says the pricing is competitive with anything else available online, but it remains to be seen whether users will start seeing Gmail as a VoIP alternative and not just an email client.
The feature is being rolled out over a few days in all of the countries where it will be available.
Google may not be making a big deal about it this time around either, but the move is a very bold one and could turn Gmail into a true Skype competitor.
Along with Google Voice, the company could have a truly powerful product, though it doesn't really look like Google is working too hard on it.