"Gmail voice and video chat makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and family using your computer's microphone and speakers," says Google software engineer Robin Schriebman. "But until now, this required both people to be at their computers, signed into Gmail at the same time. Given that most of us don't spend all day in front of our computers, we thought, 'wouldn't it be nice if you could call people directly on their phones?'"
Google tested the feature internally before releasing it to the public (in the U.S. so far). When users with Google Voice numbers call people, that number will display as the caller ID.
Along with the launch, the company showed off some phone booths it will be setting up in universities and airports. Danny Sullivan got to peek inside one:
The phone booths should go a long way in showing off this feature and familiarizing people with Google Voice in general, which seems to be the company's real goal.
Clearly there is an interest in making phone calls from Gmail, as the numbers from the first day indicate.