As someone who lives in an area with a poor cell signal, I’ve often relied on my strong internet connection and making phone calls through Gmail as my pseudo “home” or landline telephone. When Google began transitioning to Hangouts, this phone calling feature was a little more difficult to get to, but today Google has announced that, not only are calls back — but they’re now better than ever.
Starting today, users can now make free calls to the US and Canada, and for those that want to call internationally, you still have the option to pay Google’s super low rates. Also, with calls now officially available in Hangouts, it’s now possible to initiate a Hangout with multiple phone callers and video participants, with everyone joining in on the conversation. Have family out of country? Initiate a video Hangout with them, and call up your mom on her celly while she’s out and about. Pretty sweet.
I’ve been avoiding “upgrading” to Hangouts in Gmail but now with the return of phone calling, I’m all over it like white on rice. If you don’t see the call icon just yet, don’t worry. Google assures us this feature will be rolling out to everyone over the next few days. What’s interesting is how Google specifically mentions that Hangouts is the future of Google Voice, with calls being “just the beginning.” Take that as you will, Android friends.