Google is reportedly testing a voice service for Gmail users, enabling them to make calls from their inboxes.
US website Cnet reports that Google is offering voice calling functionality in the Chat feature of Gmail mailboxes, allowing users to make calls to numbers in their Google address book.
The search firm currently offers Google Voice, which runs as a desktop client and offers a US phone number, plus value-adds such as a single phone number that redirects to multiple phones and SMS to email.
However, Google Voice is not a VoIP calling service, and the reported trial is the first indication that Google plans an IP voice service to challenge Skype and the global telecom industry.
The new app is likely to be based on technology from Gizmo5,which Google acquired last year, Cnet said.
Skype, now the world’s largest carrier of international voice minutes, is planning an IPO by the end of 2010. It delivered 95 billion calling minutes in the first half of 2010, 40% of which were video.
Google had 176 million Gmail users in December 20090, according to comScore.