Looks like Google has rolled out free text messaging in Chat. On Wednesday, Google pointed users to this
This was a product Google had in its labs. Earlier, you had to sign into the Google labs edition of Gmail and “enable text messaging.” Until now, this was available only in the US. But now, its available a whole lot of countries including India.
Update: We have been trying to send messages to many different mobile numbers and none of it worked. Also, as readers have pointed out, Google has updated the supported mobile networks list to include “all mobile operators.” Apparently, this little known service has been around for sometime now, but Google has been drawing attention of users to this only now.