Nearly every home in the US has a landline telephone, and it’s estimated that more than a third of the world’s population owns a cell phone. And now telephone communication has a new capability. It’s called VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol. VoIP technology allows you to use your broadband Internet connection to make phone calls.
Google Talk’s VoIP element is called a softphone, meaning simply that it’s a software phone – a piece of software acts as the telephone. If you’re at all familiar with Skype, then you should have a pretty good idea of what the VoIP element of Google Talk is all about.
Some people are wary of using a service such as Google Talk because it requires that they have some equipment they don’t ordinarily user when making telephone calls.
With traditional telephone service, you pick up the phone that you’ve always used and make a call. With VoIP, you use your computer to accomplish this, which means you also need speakers and a microphone. Most people prefer to use a headset that combines the microphone and speakers into a single device.
The Google Store carries a headset that you can use with Google Talk (for as little as $15). You don’t have to purchase it there, but it’s convenient and if you want complete freedom in using the Google Talk service, there’s even a wireless headset available. [You’ll need to have the right wireless capabilities available on your computer, of course.]
You also need a soundcard in your computer. In most cases, it’s already there and you don’t have to worry about it. But if your computer is more than a year or two old, you should check to be sure the sound card will operate the headset you choose.
Having a Conversation
Once you have your computer set up – software downloaded, speakers and microphone or headset installed – you’re ready to start having conversations. And of course, the conversation starts with the Google Talk window.
Sign into your Google Talk program, and from the Google Talk window, select the person you would like to call. Remember that to select a person, you simply place your pointer over the person’s name and wait for the pop-out window to appear.
To talk to others through Google Talk, they also have to be using the program, and they must also be onlein. If you try to call someone who isn’t online, you’ll receive a message telling you that.
From the pop-out menu that appears, click the Call button, shown in the figure below. This intiates a call to your selected friend.
Inside the chat window, you’ll see a message that says you’re calling someone. This will chage to show you’re actually talking to the person or (if there’s no answer) that you’ve left a voice mail, if you have.
When you’re ready to end the call, just click the End Call button, shown below. (Hint: The End Call button replaces the Call button when the conversation is initiated.)
If your Google Talk friend doesn’t answer your call, you can leave a voicemail, just as you would on a regular phone – with one condition. Your friend must also be a Gmail account user. When you’re finished leaving your voicemail, click the End Call button and the voicemail will be delivered to the person you called. The next time that person signs on to Google Talk, a voice-mail indicator appears on their Google Talk window.
To listen to the voicemail, all you have to do is click the voicemail indicator.
This post is part of the series: Using Google Talk for Communications
Google Talk offers VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone service and instant messaging, along with other features that help you stay connected to people around the globe. This series of articles covers getting started using Google Talk for all your communication needs.