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Voice calling coming soon to Gmail?

A while back, I tried to calm Mike Arrington down via a post -- he was quite worked about about Google's apparent scrapping of the rumored desktop client for Google Voice. No worries, I said, it's going to be coming to your browser soon enough. All the necessary bits are there, after all, at least in Google Chrome.

Two days later, Alex Chitu seredipitously posted a screenshot of what appeared to be the beginnings of a voice calling panel in Gmail.

Now, CNet's Tom Krazit has shared two more images -- the first which you can see in the header clearly showing a call phone option in the Gmail chat widget. Better still, it's also proudly proclaiming free calls to the U.S. and Canada for the remainder of 2010.

The second image (right) shows the call widget itself, which will be tabbed -- on tab featuring a dial pad and the other which will display your recent calling history.

As I said before, a browser-based client makes much more sense for Google than a desktop one for several reasons. For starters, they've pretty much declared the desktop to be a dead end and thrown their weight behind the Web. They're rolling updates for Chrome faster than ever before and steamrolling toward the release of the browser-heavy Chrome OS later this year.

Integrating voice calling into Gmail would not only help drive additional users to Gmail, but it could also widen Chrome's user base -- since it's very possible the voice calling features could require some Chrome-only features like Native Client.

Either way, the addition of voice calling to Gmail would be huge.

Now let's hope they roll this out to more than just U.S. users when it finally arrives...

Tags: calling, calls, gmail, google voice, GoogleVoice, voice