Dec. 27, 2012 at 2:39 PM ET
In what is becoming a holiday tradition, Google has announced that Gmail users in the United States and Canada will be able to make domestic calls using the service until the end of next year. This follows similar announcements in 2011 and 2010.
Google's voice-over-IP tool is useful for someone who needs to call a Gmail contact quickly. When it was introduced in August 2010, Google said it would be available for free until the end of that year. But in late December, Google extended the free calls through 2011 — and at the end of that year, extended it again through 2012.
Now Google says on its Gmail blog that free calling within the U.S. and Canada will continue through 2013. Not an entirely unexpected announcement, but welcome to the many users of the service.
Chances are Google will never charge for domestic calls, something most people get gratis or at negligible cost anyway. The more people use the service for everyday phone calls, the more likely they are to use it eventually for long-distance calls, which Google charges for.
Using the function is a simple as pressing the "phone" icon near your contacts in Gmail (you may need to download a plugin). Alternatively, follow the simple instructions in this link.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBCNews Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.