Already, Gmail serves as a control panel, an always-open tab, for the loyal Google user. It offers quick and simple access to our email, contacts, calendar, documents, chat and more. Soon, it may be home to a Web-based telephony client.
According to CNET, Google has begun testing a Gmail-integrated VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) client that would allow users to make phone calls directly from the browser.
The feature is different from the voice and video chat that is already available from Gmail using the chat feature, in that it isn't solely between chat users. Instead, the new feature looks to allow users to call any type of phone directly from their Web browser.
For those users seeing the test of the new product, the ability to make phone calls is added directly to the Google Talk popup that appears in the lower right corner of the Gmail screen, offering a keypad, a call history, and a credit balance. According to the screenshots from CNET, Google will offer free calls within the U.S. and Canada, with cheap international calling, in 2010.
Gadget-obsessed blog Slashgear suggests that the new feature fits in line with rumors from last July, which suggested that Google was looking to develop a software-based VoIP service that would fit in line with its upcoming Google Chrome OS.