Those of you who use or want to try out Gmail's voice calling feature to make phone calls can now set up multiple calls at the same time.
Unveiled almost a year ago, Gmail's phone call feature lets you make calls to other Gmail users as well as to regular cell phones and landlines. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are free, while calls abroad typically cost a few pennies per minute. The feature even includes video chatting.
Until now, you could only make one phone call at a time. But in a recent update to the service, Google has added the ability to make multiple phone calls.
As described in the company's blog yesterday, if you're speaking to one person and want to call someone else, the first call is put on hold while you jump to the second call. You can bounce back and forth between each call by pressing the "Resume" button to put the other person on hold. You can carry on more than two calls by phoning even more people, though personally I'd get a headache trying to juggle that many conversations.
I tried out the multiple calling feature by opening and switching between two calls, and the feature worked smoothly.
Here are the steps to follow to make multiple calls, especially for those of you who've never used Gmail to make a call before.
- Log in to your Gmail account.
- On the left side of the screen, you should see a link named "Call Phone" in the Chat section. Click on that link, and a small dialer window will pop up in the lower right of your screen.
- Before you can make your first call, you'll first need to download Google's voice plug-in, which you can do by clicking on the link for it in the dialer window.
- You'll see a screen asking you to install voice and video chat. Install the plugin.
- After the plug-in is installed, just reopen the voice dialer on your Gmail page and you can now make a call.
- If you wish to make a second call and not lose the first one, simply click on the "Call Phone" link in the Chat section again. Your first call will automatically switch to hold. And as explained in the blog, clicking on the Resume button will let you switch back and forth from one call to another.
Offering an alternative to Skype and other VoIP products, Google's phone call feature was a hit at its debut in August, racking up 1 million calls on its first day of service.