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Gmail with Google Voice is like a cheaper Skype with multiple calls

Kevin Purdy shows you how you can make and receive multiple calls using Google Voice features in your Gmail account. You can even put calls on hold if you want.

That Gmail lets you call nearly any phone in the U.S. or Canada for free is pretty amazing and audacious. Now the embarrassment of bandwidth riches gets even richer, as you can make and receive multiple calls and put calls on hold. In other words, Gmail might be easier to use than your actual phone, and it's cheaper than Skype.

As detailed in a Gmail Blog post, Gmail now allows up to two simultaneous calls to be running inside its own browser space. If you're on your virtual Gmail phone and want to call somebody else to double-check something, you can open a new call window (either from the left-side call window or by quickly pressing "g," then "p") and pick a name or number. Your first call is place on hold, and you can come back to it by hitting the "Resume" button on its window, which also pauses your secondary call, if it's still open. If you get a ring while you're on your first call, you can choose to take that call and use the same pause/resume scheme to switch between your open calls.

Using this feature for calling phone numbers is convenient, but you can seemingly go beyond two calls if you're making a non-phone "voice" or video call through Gmail. My contact list doesn't contain more than two people I could call and immediately place on hold in the middle of a work day though, so I'll have to take Google at their word.

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Making phone calls in Gmail (technically through Google Voice) still requires a good Wi-Fi or cable connection, and likely a USB headset, unless you enjoy shouting and feedback. Still, if you find yourself somewhere with better web service than phone service, or if you don't mind scaling back on your cellphone minute usage, Gmail's quite the nice fallback option these days.

About

Kevin Purdy is a freelance writer, a former editor at Lifehacker.com, and the author of The Complete Android Guide.

6 comments
allanroger
allanroger

Yeah, Google Voice is really good for social interactions. However, for business purposes RHUB`s web conferencing servers are the best. It provides better security and landline voice quality through its audio conferencing.

AZEducator
AZEducator

The sound quality on my Droid is not very good. When I use Google Voice on my MacBookPro, everyone remarks how clear the sound is, and that is without any supplemental hardware. It is also much more pleasant than holding the phone.

simchuck
simchuck

I have had a Google Voice account since it was Grand Central and no problems. But recently I wanted to set up a GV account for a non-profit group I work with to allow multiple people to at least get notification of phone calls. I set it up with my own cell number at first to get things going, then switched the main contact to someone else and deleted my account and number. Unfortunately (VERY unfortunately), for some reason GV still think that my cell number is somehow attached, and even more disturbing, it captures missed calls which are made direct to my cell number, and sends that the to the group voicemail in GV. More than a few confused people have asked me about this, so I tried calling my cell phone from various phones and saw that it does indeed send the caller to the now unrelated group. I am still trying to figure out how to repair this, and without an actual customer service number or email at google to call, I am stuck.. My recommendation... DO NOT use Google Voice. It seems to be the one application where there are unacceptable and incorrectable bugs.

W.E.
W.E.

I tried to sign up, but it asks you to choose a number and then just tells you "sorry" no other information.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Have you used Google Voice? How would you describe the experience?

jimuccello
jimuccello

Use it on my iPad. Never a bit of trouble.