Google has finally taken away the "by invitation only" requirement on its email service and has opened it up for anyone.

Previously, you could only sign up for an account if you'd received an invitation for one from a Gmail user.

Google had already removed the invitation requirement in some countries, including Australia, but this marks the first time users in the UK and US can sign up.

The service is still strictly in beta, even though it's been around since 2004, when it was launched as Gmail. The name was changed to Googlemail after a trademark case in Europe.

A Googlemail account comes with 2.8GB of free space for emails, as well as providing spam blockers and search features.

Also launched today in the UK is Google's email client for mobile phones.

The Java application automatically syncs with a Googlemail account, and lets users view photos and attachment as well as carry out common emailing tasks.