Google Offers Free PC-to-Phone Calls To US & Canada

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There was a lot of media coverage yesterday when Google announced that they would offer PC-to-Phone calls to US and Canada numbers for free from their Gmail interface. To try it out if you haven’t already, just log into your Gmail email account.

But wait… Google Voice (GV) has offered free US long-distance for a while already, and they’ll call your landline or cell phone so that you don’t have to sit by your PC and use a headset. Much more convenient in my opinion, even though I still love my Ooma. I primarily use GV for their voicemail transcription feature.

On top of that, let’s say you live in Texas and a big chunk of family and friends live in San Francisco that use landlines. Sign up for a Google Voice number with a San Francisco area code, and have your friends call that number. It’ll count as a local call for them, and will be forwarded for free to your existing phone.

However, this does make it more convenient to use, since Google’s service works within a web browser (plugin required) instead of a separate application. Skype might have to drop their prices as well, since they charge 2.1 cents a minute or $3 a month unlimited for the same features. Another perk is for international residents that want to call into the US for free, it appears you just need to have Gmail and have the default language set to “US English”.

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  1. Has anyone figured out how to make this work on an iPod Touch?

  2. This will save you money if you only have a cellphone. Now to make outgoing calls you won’t even need a phone, so if you only have a cellphone like me you will save minutes vs. Google Voice only.

    Now if they will just allow free incoming calls straight to your GV number without having to forward to another line, I can ditch my Skype number altogether. Currently Skype numbers are $60/year discounted to $30/year if you also subscribe to making calls to phones for $30/year. So at this point there is no cost savings unless you can ditch both.

    I definitely like the trend, though.

  3. There is apparently a problem on some machines. Does not work on my laptop, connects and the other side can hear me but cannot hear them on my side. Have tried all of the solutions in their support forums to no avail. Can use voice through Google Chat-to-Chat and Skype but no workie with their new functionality.

    If you’re having the same problem make sure to enter a new topic or respond to a matching topic on their support site:

  4. @Jeremy

    GV does allow free incoming calls straight to your GV number. Once configured, the calls show up as an incoming call in gchat and you can answer them there. No need to have the call forwarded to an existing telephone line.

  5. Thanks Joshua. I didn’t realize that was available but it seems to be working. I’ll test for a few days and then ditch Skype.

  6. I have just signed up in the last week, I have not used yet.
    I like that Google give you a number for free. Skype charge you, I guess.
    I call internationally over the Internet, so I am still going to use Skype, but I will see how they compete.
    This situation is especially interesting around the time of Skype IPO.

  7. I’ve been unable to set up GV. Apparently with GV you have to have a physical landline, since to set it up you have to personally answer the initial call from GV (and ounch in a PIN). I do have a landline number but it’s not a physical line but a virtual one (for voicemail only) so I’ve been unable to “answer” that call. How frustrating! I hope GV can dispense of that requirement. Is anyone smarter out there to tell me what I can do? Thanks.

  8. @Brian – Have you tried just using a cell phone? Or a friend’s phone?

  9. Jonathan,

    I am not so sure this service can be used from abroad for free. I set up a gmail account for my buddy for just this person, set all the settings to English, US, Eastern Time, etc. However, when I log onto his account I see the green phone set button I can hit to start dialing. When he logs onto that same account, the green phone set button is not there. So, it does not seem to work.
    Has anybody else tried it from abroad? Please let me know what was your experience. Thanks!

  10. Unfortunately, as usual Google gives the same excuse as it does for all its other new features, that Google Apps accounts are ineligible due to made-up “security” concerns.

  11. @Dimitri – Here’s a quote, I don’t think it works everywhere yet. It does seem to work for people in Australia.

    “We are launching this to US users as our first step and will be rolling out additional localised versions in the future. Depending on local laws and regulations, if an account is set to US-English, you might be able to access the feature in some other countries, like Australia, as well,” a Google spokesperson told the News Limited site.

  12. Thank you Jonathan.

  13. Jonathan, I was curious as to which provider do you use for cell phone service. Me and my husband are currently with AT&T’s family plan and are paying around $135/ month. We get 1400 mins/month. Oh and also my husband has an iphone with data plan, but I just use a regular phone.

    If you or anyone else have experience with a better/cheaper option, please let me know 🙂

  14. does google stop giving free call over canada from October 2011.. i cnt able to make free call from this month..

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