Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Google Adds Free Voice Calling to Hangouts

Google Voice may officially be dead but that doesn't mean the service is gone for good. Google has just given the free VoIP service a bit of a reprieve as the company has announced the addition of free voice calls to Google Hangouts. The new service will offer free calling to other Hangouts users and phone numbers in the U.S. and Canada,. There will also be an option for international calling with what Google is stating are low international rates.

To get started on Android, just grab the new version of Hangouts (v2.3, rolling out over the next few days), then install the accompanying dialer to turn on voice calls. On iOS and the web, voice calls will be available the next time you open the app.

For all you current Google Voice and Google Voice app users, you will soon see a pop-up prompting you to migrate to the new Hangouts app. Once your migration is completed messages sent will show as "via GV" to let you know it was sent to your Google Voice number. It's also worth noting that if you turn on Google Voice integration, the Voice app will stop receiving messages—everything will go straight to Hangouts.

There is no need to worry though. The new update brings almost all of the current features of the Google Voice service to Hangouts. This means your new Hangouts calls will be fully integrated and will allow you to use your current Google Voice number. All your voice-mail transcriptions appear in the regular Hangouts chat interface, as do text messages to your Google Voice number.

For outgoing text messages, Google will give users a couple of options. There is a smart reply feature that will automatically send your replies from the number that received it (Google Voice or your regular phone number), or you can choose to always use Google Voice or your phone to respond.

For the time being, iPhone users will only get support for Google Voice calling. SMS and voice-mail support is coming “soon,” according to Google.

Google has been rapidly integrating all of its communications services such as Google Talk, Google+ Messenger and regular SMS functionality into the Hangouts application on Android, and with the integration of Google Voice it will finally be able to provide a unified communication tool to its users.

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