Google has long ceased to be just a search engine and has embraced several areas, from services to infrastructure, all via the Internet.
From Blogger to the ambitious Page Speed, there are many services that the company offers to users.
The coolest thing is that some of them go beyond the virtual and directly impact the users’ lifestyle.
From Android that moves smartphones, through Checkout that allows the purchase of goods and services, to Voice, which in a quick explanation works more or less as an interface / suite of resources for telephony.
Launched in March 2009 in the United States, Google Voice offers a wide range of features.
Among other things, it transcribes voice messages, integrates several numbers into one, redirects calls to different numbers according to parameters set by the user, sends SMS to email, allows conferences and calls from Gmail – in the USA and Canada, these are free within respective countries.
Google Voice in Brazil? That way, but yes!
Until yesterday, the rest of the world was at ease about Google Voice.
We are still here, but Voice’s first resource outside of its country of origin has finally arrived: calls from Gmail.
The announcement was made on the service’s official blog and extends to 38 countries, including Brazil.
In the same way that calls are made between PCs within the company’s webmail, now you can make calls to landline and mobile numbers at relatively low rates.
In addition to «activating» the account, you must have the Gmail audio / video plugin installed and, of course, a microphone or headset connected to the PC.
The «activation» is done from the official website of Gmail Call.
Just click on the “Try it now” button and the system will be enabled in Gmail.
In addition, you also gain access to the Google Voice dashboard, accessible via the same address above.
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It is worth reinforcing: just a little bit of Google Voice has been made available in these 38 countries, namely the connection to landlines and mobile phones.
Voice offers much more; unfortunately there is no forecast for the arrival of other resources …
Ears-on: buying credits and making calls
Think of calls within Gmail like SkypeOut: the user buys credits to make calls.
The purchase of credit takes place on the Voice dashboard, with a minimum amount of US $ 10.
The transaction is fast, made through Google Checkout.
If you already bought something on the Android Market, for example, you don’t need to configure anything, just confirm the purchase.
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The dashboard itself is quite simple due to the scarcity of resources in the international version of Voice.
On the left are the call history, starred calls, trash and contact list (same as Gmail, by the way), as well as balance with recharge shortcuts, rates and financial history.
Yeah, there really isn’t much to do here …
In Gmail, the GTalk widget gains a new option, “Call phone”, at the top of the list and distinguished by the icon of a phone instead of the Android ball / robot.
One click and a phone’s keyboard pops out at the bottom of the page, as if it were a chat window.
Just dial and call.
To test the service, I made calls to the same area (DDD) where I am and some to a different DDD, both fixed numbers.
The cost is US $ 0.03 per minute, which is R $ 0.05 / min, very attractive for long distance calls and, at the tip of the pencil, more than the prices charged by perhaps the biggest competitor, the Skype.
See a comparison:
The big question, however, is in terms of quality.
In the two calls made, both very short, I managed to hear and make myself heard, although with some «cuts» in the first test.
Although communication is perfectly possible, audio quality still has to improve.
Enough, by the way.
And on Android?
There is a Google Voice app for Android.
All content with the successful “installation” of the call module in Gmail, I downloaded the app in the hope of being able to make VoIP calls at low cost from the cell phone as well.
But I broke my face 🙂
The app starts and takes the user directly to a kind of configuration wizard.
Everything goes well until it is time to enter a four-digit PIN code to enable Voicemail, the transcription of voice messages into text.
Uh… it doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work.
Can I retire Skype now?
I would not do that.
Competition is always welcome and, in the current state, except for the more affordable values, Google Voice in Brazil has nothing that Skype and other VoIP services no longer offer – with superior quality, by the way.
When (and especially if) the other Voice resources get here, then it will be something to be well thought out.
In the USA, Google already offers number portability for Voice, freeing the user from the operators when it comes to telephony.
In fact, this and the other advantages can and certainly will be an obstacle to the arrival of the product here; if today you can’t even sign a plan with fixed-line operators that only includes an Internet connection (without the telephony part, therefore), mobile operators won’t let go of your bone so easily.
And there is also the question of the quality of our 3G, an item whose importance is valued when it becomes the exclusive bridge for making calls.
The call via Gmail is now available and, if it has not yet appeared in your account, it is only a matter of time – the release is being gradual.
It pays off and a lot to make long distance calls at low cost, although the quality leaves a little to be desired.
It may be the first step for Google Voice in the rest of the world or the last in Brazil.
Let’s hope it is the first chance.