Use Gmail For More Than E-Mail

Right after I wrote a post about enhancing Gmail’s usefulness, they added more goodness.

Now you can make phone calls from Gmail without a Google Voice number. You can also download a free extension called Rapportive that shows the email sender’s digital profile.

Make calls from inside Gmail

On the left of your Gmail browser, underneath your inbox, there should now be a little button that says “Call phone” inside of your Google Chat window.

Click the button, type in a phone number, and there you go. Piece of cake. Google says that you do not need a Google Voice account to use the service. If you do not have a Google Voice account, however, I am not sure what number shows up when you make calls. This could limit the utility of the function, as most people tend to not answer calls from unknown numbers. If you do have a Google Voice number, the number that pops on the caller ID is your Google Voice number.

This is not ground-breaking technology, but it is certainly useful when you want to make a call from your laptop, especially if you do not use Skype.

Instant digital profiles from email senders

Rapportive is a new browser extension that integrates with Gmail. The program instantly searches the web for the email sender’s digital profile. It is free and it works with a variety of browsers.

On the right side of your Gmail account, where you normally see ads, you will now see information Rapportive finds on the sender of the email.

For example, it might find their picture, their LinkedIn profile, their Twitter feed, address, etc. Given the explosion of social media, this is a neat feature to use. You can instantly follow someone on Twitter if you like them. If you just want more information on the person, it pops out without doing any work.

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