A few months ago, Google introduced phone calls in Gmail. This feature allowed users to make calls to several countries through Google Talk and is powered by Google Voice. Back then Google had promised to provide free calling for users in the United States and Canada till the end of 2010. However, Google has now extended the free calling through Gmail till 2011.
In a recent blog post Google said that they will be extending free calling to US and Canada numbers till the end of 2011:
When we launched calling in Gmail back in August, we wanted it to be easy and affordable, so we made calls to the U.S. and Canada free for the rest of 2010. 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.
Calling rates to several countries are pretty low, for example calling India using Gmail would cost you 6 cents per minute to both landlines and mobile phones, calling to UK is about 2cents. This is on par or a bit higher than several calling cards available in the United States. You will find all the calling rates at this page.
Google will use your Google Voice account number as the outbound caller ID. You can also receive calls made to your Google Voice number within Gmail after following these instructions. You will need to install a voice and video plugin for your browser, which can be downloaded from http://gmail.com/call.
The new calling button is integrated into Google Chat, and users can click on "Call phone" at the top of the chat list and dial a number or enter a contact’s name from your Google contacts. This feature will be rolled out to US based Gmail users in the next few days.
Update: I got to try this feature out in my account and it worked pretty well. I tried calling my own number and several others and the voice quality was excellent.
Voice recognition in mobile phones has been a boon for people who just don’t have the time to type, and yes, the world has lost all their ball pens and keyboards and want software to decipher and understand what they say rather than having to spend time typing it all out.
However, there are several reports which suggest that the Nexus One refuses to understand abusive languages, not out of robotic ignorance, but because Google decided to teach their robots to be non-abusive.
"We filter potentially offensive or inappropriate results because we want to avoid situations whereby we might misrecognize a spoken query and return profanity when, in fact, the user said something completely innocent,"
However, not only is the F word censored, there are several other abusive words which do not work in the text-to-speech feature built into the Nexus One. Google, would you allow us to use our choice of words, or do you plan to control that as well, eh?
Disclaimer: I am not suggesting you use abusive words on your phone, however, it is not right to limit abusive words because your software or robot will get it wrong, it is after all plain English, don’t you get that?
Although direct sales isn’t something new in most parts of the world (like in India), it remains a novel business model in the US. Most people are used to purchasing phones, at subsidized rates, from the carriers. Of course, Google is trying to change all that and is allowing people to directly order unlocked models of Nexus One.
The trouble with cutting out the carriers is that, Google will now have to be responsible for everything related to Nexus One, including after sales customer support. However, from the look of things, Google isn’t equipped to provide the level of customer support required. Google seems to be accepting only e-mail queries, which it promises to reply within one or two days. However, this isn’t fast enough for most people.
Frustrated with Google some people are turning to their mobile carriers or HTC (manufacturer), but mostly in vain. HTC as well as the mobile carriers are mostly referring customers back and forth and to Google. One customer going by the username Roland78 had to spend one and a half hour on the phone and was transferred between T-Mobile and HTC four times. “T-Mobile also said Google hasn’t provided them with any support documents for the phone. Welcome to direct sales Google!he commented.
Direct sales model has its own benefits, including more freedom and often lower total cost of ownership. However, Google needs to get its act together and fast. The online boards are getting flooded with comments about the poor quality of service. In fact there are complaints regarding other aspects including billing and order confirmation.
Recently, Nexus One was launched at the Android Press Conference. So we decided to do a detailed comparison of Nexus One, Motorola Droid and iPhone 3GS. The following comparison will help you to find out the best phone according to your needs.
We, at Techie-buzz, were doing an evaluation of all the significant tech events that happened in 2009. Authors had different opinions about the biggest and most influential event we witnessed this year. But everyone agreed the biggest showdown of the year, surrounding rumors, was the much hyped Google “Nexus One” phone.
We chased Nexus One, right from the beginning, till its official announcement. Here are the events on how the Google “Nexus One” Phone was born out of rumors and went on to become a reality.
There were many fake aka “leaked” pics and videos, that surfaced similar to these:
These rumors did not surface on their own. Google had long pending plans about this phone. Google first developed Android: the hottest and one of the best OS for portable devices that the open source community has to offer, and then Google voice: which filled the long pending dream of users about the ideal VOIP (voice-over-internet-telephony). What was the next product expected from the company? Maybe one high-end phone with all the bare basics for today’s power user: a fast processor, bluetooth, bigger ram, wi-fi, camera, touch enabled UI, and yes, one that can compete with the killer iPhone, that overshadowed the cellphone history of this decade.
Engadget is reporting that Google Nexus One will be launching on January 5. However, most of you may have to wait a bit longer, since the launch event is likely to be an invite-only affair. On what basis Google plans to hand out the invites remains a mystery, but it is likely that registered developers will be among the lucky few. The good news is that T-Mobile will start selling the phone directly to customers in the near future. However, the exact date is unknown.
Engadget also managed to get their hands on the detailed specifications. Here are the highlights:
OS: Android 2.1
Height: 119 mm Width: 59.8 mm Thickness: 11.5 mm
Display: 3.7-inch WVGA AMOLED
Processor: Qualcomm QSD 8250, 1 Ghz
Storage: 512MB RAM, 512MB ROM, 4GB microSD card included (expandable up to 32 GB)
Camera: 5 megapixel with LED Flash
Connectivity: HSPA 900 / 1700 / 2100, 7.2Mbps down and 2Mbps up (This means 3g would work on T-Mobile but not on AT&T)
Google certainly knows how to hype up a product. They have done it time and again by simply restricting availability; and they seem to be doing it again. Google first started the fire by handing out the phone to employees all around the world (which was a sure-fire way to guarantee leaks).And now, by making the initial launch event they are only adding fuel to the fire.
The Nexus One leaks are continuing to trickle in. Slowly but surely a much clearer picture about the highly anticipated Google phone is beginning to emerge. Earlier today, a rather lengthy walkthrough of the Nexus One interface appeared on YouTube. The video quality is pretty poor, but the walkthrough is definitely thorough.
Along with a video, several new snaps of Nexus One have also been leaked. All of them are available over here.
The Google Phone: Nexus One
Nexus One compared with the iPhone
Meanwhile, Gizmodo and tnkgrl were lucky enough to be able to get a hands-on with Nexus One. The hands-ons once again confirmed that, Nexus One would pose a serious challenge to Droid and may even manage to take on the much revered iPhone. Some of the things which were confirmed are:
The phone looks great and feels great.
The screen is splendid – it is vibrant and reactive.
Nexus One is fast – I mean really fast.
Nexus one supports animated and interactive wallpapers.
At the moment 3G works only on T-Mobile. On AT&T, the Nexus One uses EDGE.
Multi-touch support is not present in the browser or in Google Maps.