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Make phone calls direct from Gmail

Google's Gmail has a new feature which we will soon see in the UK -- the ability to make calls to traditional phone numbers. Skype will not be happy.

Gmail has a new feature which we'll soon see in the UK -- the ability to make calls to standard phone numbers.

Stepping painfully on Skype's toes, a new mix of Gmail and Google Voice technology will allow you to dial a number from your computer, as well as receive incoming calls through Google Voice, which hasn't been available in the UK before.

The service is currently rolling out in the US, with an unspecified date for release over here. But if you have any American friends, they can try giving you a call using the service for 2 cents a minute, while calls within the US and Canada are free.

You'll simply click 'call phone' through your chat list, dial a number or enter a contact's name. You have to install Google Voice first, however.

Google has no plans to make the service available on mobile devices, our sister site CNET.com reports. There are many smart phone apps already available that provide mobile VoIP, including Skype, which has an app for the iPhone.

Tom Krazit of CNET.com said to the BBC,"Google's product won't work on your mobile browser, so Skype has an advantage there, but I don't think it is a stretch to assume Google will come out with a mobile version pretty soon."

He added that Skype and other mobile VoIP companies had a right to be worried: "But you always have to worry when Google comes after what you do. They don't do things half way and bring a lot of resources to any problem they try to tackle."

Once this Gmail feature arrives in the UK, will you use it? Does it offer anything for you that Skype doesn't? Let us know.

Update: A previous version of this story said you didn't have to install any extra program. This is not the case.