Mountain View, California — In a fresh move, the kind-hearted folks over at Google must be looking forward are extending the goodwill amongst its popular Gmail user base that it has in store for them for the next year by being nice to millions of people living in the US and Canada, as Google on Wednesday said that free Google Voice calls via Gmail, allowing you to perform free domestic calls through the year of 2013 within the US and the Great White North, making it a snap to connect with friends and family scattered all over.
Gmail-powered voice and video chat, available for download from Google, will remain free in the U.S. and Canada through next year, the company said on its official blog. This means users will be able to make domestic calls effortlessly right from their Gmail at no cost at all.
Furthermore, Gmail users in several other countries can still make international calls from Gmail at “insanely low rates”, starting at just a penny per minute for calls to most countries, Google said. For instance, callers in India, get a 2-cents-per-minute rate, compared with 9-cents-per-minute from the country’s leading Internet telephony provider, according to the search giant.
Surprisingly though, some other countries serviced by Google Voice getting half-price or better on rates from local Internet telephony providers include France (10-cents-per-minute), Germany (10-cents-per-minute), and Mexico (15-cents-per-minute). International callers will want to keep in mind that Google adds local tariffs like value-added taxes to the price of Google Voice purchases made online.
In order to keep its service flourish, the company initially introduced voice calls from Gmail in August 2010 after introducing Gmail’s voice and video chat feature in 2008. When the service first launched, Google said that it would make it free for the first year. Since then, though, the company has always extended the promotion since, resulting in free phone calls from Gmail the past several years.
In fact, the Gmail calling service is based off of Google Voice, which is Google’s own voice-calling and text-messaging service that offers free calling and text messaging provided that you have some sort of internet connection. However, besides Google+ contacts integration and the launch of an updated Android app, Google Voice has remained pretty quiet lately.
It seems that Google is turning this into a yearly holiday trend. It is nice to hear good news once in a while, especially when our media is flooded with all manner of depressing information. Now, if history serves us well, Google will most likely make the same announcement next December when they will extend free calling through 2014!