Google has added a new feature to its Maps product. Now upon locating a business on Google Maps, you are given the option of calling the phone number listed in the directory.
As Google explains the service, when you click the "call" link next to a business' phone number, you'll be invited to enter your phone number. Once you select "Connect For Free," Google Maps calls the number you provided. Your phone should then ring, displaying the caller ID of the business, not of Google. After picking up, our experiences varied between two outcomes: often we heard ringing on the other end as Maps connects you to the business, and other times we heard an automated voice which required us to press "1" before the call could be connected. In either case, when the other end answers, you simply talk normally as if you had directly dialed their number on your phone.
The great part about this feature, aside from convenience, is that the service is essentially free. Given that both parties are dealing with incoming calls, there are no long-distance charges in your local calling area.
For those concerned about privacy issues when revealing phone numbers, Google said that the number will never be used to make any other calls to the user and that the "information will be deleted from our servers after a period reasonably necessary to operate the service."