If you experimented with voice & video chat, you probably noticed the "Call phone" icon in your chat list. This lets you call any number in the US and Canada for free using Google. In my department, we use this feature to make our long-distance calls to the Twin Cities campus (for example: committees, etc.) and now our monthly phone bills are essentially the cost of having a phone on the desk - as close to zero as you can get.
I'd like to compare some actual numbers with you. At Morris, we are charged per handset, and I pay a total of $120 each month just for the phones on our desks.
But in June, my department's cost for making phone calls was just $9.50. Compare that to May 2011, when my cost for phone calls was $75.
Why the difference? In the meantime, I have encouraged everyone in Computing Services to use Google to make long distance phone calls, where possible. If we're not calling a number inside the campus, we opt for Google. And as you can see, that's made a huge difference in our monthly phone bill.
We all watch our budgets closely. Why not save a little money from your budget by switching to Google Apps for long distance calls?
To make a call, just click on the "Call phone" item in "Chat". You'll get a little dialer that looks like the keypad on a phone. Simply tap in the phone number (or type it in the box) and click "Call" to make the call. If you have phone numbers in your contacts, you can also search for that person in the box. For example, I have the phone number for the Twin Cities Conference Operator saved in my contacts, so I just type "conf" in the box, and it automatically finds (and enters) the number for the conference operator.
Like voice chat, you'll need a microphone and speakers connected to your computer. And you will need to install a small driver from Google. It's easy to set up on your own! If you don't have the driver, you'll be prompted to download and automatically install it, the first time you try to make a call. Call the Helpdesk if you need help.
One thing to know when you make phone calls from Google: the person you are calling will not see your number when you call. Since you're making the call through Google's network, the call will go out from a Google server. So "your" number won't show up as your work number, but a phone number assigned to one of Google's data centers.