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Google tests phone calls from Gmail

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Google is testing a service that lets you make phone calls from Gmail, according to a report that includes a screen shot of the test.

Cnet says it has learned that Google is exploring a service that launches phone calls from Google Chat, the IM client that dovetails with Gmail. The report says that the service allows users to place and receive calls via a user interface that "strongly resembles" Google Voice, the new-age telephony thingy that lets you attach a single phone number to multiple phones and turn your voice mails into emails.

According to CNet, calls placed to US or Canadian numbers are free, with discounts on international calls.

Google already offers voice and video chat from within Gmail. But the service described by CNet is specifically for phone calls – i.e. you can dial out to phones.

Mountain View also offers Google Talk, a standalone desktop VoIP client. But this too is a different animal. CNet says that the service being tested by Google appears to be a web-based VoIP client.

In November, Google acquired VoIP client maker Gizmo5, saying it would roll Gizmo5's developers into its Google Voice team. "While we don't have any specific features to announce right now, Gizmo5's engineers will be joining the Google Voice team to continue improving the Google Voice and Gizmo5 experience," the company said at the time.

Google did not immediately respond to our request for comment. But it gave CNet the standard: "Google is always testing new features and products, but we have nothing specific to announce right now."

CNet says that a Google Voice account is not required to use the service under test. ®

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