Google extends free Gmail calls service

Google on December 20 announced that its users in the US would be able to avail free Gmail calling service for one more year.

The service that allows people in the US to make phone calls to the US and Canada using Gmail was rolled out in August. At the roll out, Google stated that the service would remain free until the end of 2010.

But, Google extended the service by one full year to the end of 2011.

Announcing the decision, Google software engineer Robin Schriebman said, "In the spirit of holiday giving and to help people keep in touch in the New Year, we're extending free calling for all of 2011.”

To avail the service, a user needs to download Google's voice as well as video plug-in. Then, the user can click the "Call Phone" tab in the left menu bar’s chat section. After that, a window opens with a virtual keypad on the right of the screen. This feature displays Google Voice users' numbers in outbound calls.

Gmail calling is a way to attract more and more users to use Google Voice.

Experts say that Google can easily afford to offer free calls to landline and mobile phones as it is not as depended on making money from the calls as other similar services, such as Skype.