Google has announced that it is extending free calling to all of the US and Canada until December 31, 11:59PM 2011. When Google launched Gmail calling back in August 2010, the service was originally intended to become pay-for at the end of this year, but the search giant has instead extended the gratis offer till the end of next year.

Gmail calling works like a regular phone, except that you need to have your e-mail account open. To call someone, click on the Call phone option at the top of your Gmail chat list and dial a number or enter a contact's name. In addition to voice, Gmail calling allows you to video chat with supported webcams and cell phones. Gmail calling also does international phone calls too, starting at $0.02 a minute.

Calling in Gmail is currently only available to US based Gmail users. You can start using it on Windows, Mac, or Linux by navigating to