Gmail is continuing the expansion of its feature armada. The most recent addition is the option to make or take multiple Gmail calls simultaneously.
The History of Calling Options in Gmail
Gmail has supported calling since 2008, when the Gmail chat (and Google Talk alongside it) received voice and video chat features. It wasn’t until much more recently (specifically, August of 2010) that Google allowed users to make calls through their Google-powered email. Last year also saw the integration of Google Voice phone numbers with Gmail; if you had a Google Voice number, you could receive calls through Gmail.
Google’s Voice team has been busy, having moved on from more shotgun-styled releases such as Goog 411 to more focused and integrated features. Voice recognition is also being used in Android voice searches and the newly released Google desktop voice searches.
Multiple Call and Hold Features
The new features are fairly intuitive, and based on a simple “hold” mechanism. First and foremost, those who want to place someone on hold can do so with the new pause button located on the right-hand side of the Gmail call box. This same hold is usedwhen the user opens a new call box and dials to a new number; the old call is put on hold while the new one call is in progress. Another change is that those who have integrated a Google Voice phone number can answer incoming calls without disconnecting from a currently active call. The current call is simply put on hold.
For the time being, there’s no option to conference with multiple people. It may be that Google intentionally avoided this because of potential abuse (specifically the possibility to connect two other users, potentially avoiding standard charges), but we’re certainly a step closer to conference calling as of this most recent release.
[Sources include: The Gmail Blog]