How to make free calls from a plane using Google Voice and Gmail

Right now, I’m cruising at 35,000 feet on a Delta flight surfing the Web with Gogo’s Inflight internet access. My flight has been delayed, and I want to tell my wife that she can pick me up later. And it occurred to me: I wonder if Google’s new “Call from Gmail” feature would work while flying.

Sure enough, I opened Gmail’s “Google Talk Plugin” interface, entered Gadling editor Grant Martin’s phone number and pressed “call.” As it turned out, he answered the phone — and he could hear me.

What does this mean? Well, it means that, if you’re in-flight, and you have a headset and a Gmail account (and a Gogo Internet pass), you can make free calls from the air (to the US and Canada only) to landlines. This is not new for VOIP (Skype’s infrastructure allows this, though it’s hit and miss), but this is a first for Google.

Is it a win for airline passengers? We’re undecided at this point. While the convenience is certainly nice, do we really need to hear the girl next to us on the plane cooing to her boyfriend via her Gmail account?


Google Voice Search for Android means hands free help on the road

At a special mobile applications presentation held yesterday, Google announced the availability of their new mobile voice search application for Android devices.

Android devices already had access to a basic Google voice search button, but this new application really improves upon that. With Voice Search you have access to the following:

  • Voice actions (call, search, control, communicate)
  • Send and dictate text messages
  • Navigate to spoken destinations and points of interest
  • Make calls to contacts and search queries
  • Send and dictate email messages
  • Request local maps and searches
  • Browse to sites
  • Send notes to yourself (in email)

Being the nerd I am, I spent a good portion of the morning playing around with these, and I’m really impressed how accurate it is. Despite my weird Scottish/Dutch/American accent, Google managed to accurately determine what I was trying to say almost every single time.

On the road, having access to hands free searches is awesome – and because Google search can understand so many phrases, you can even ask it math questions, translations, flight status information and currency conversions.

The new Voice Search app is in the Android Market – just search for “Voice Search”.