Google Hangouts App Update: Free Voice Calls Over Data for Android and iPhone

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hangoutsGoogle has just announced better integration between Google Voice and their Google Hangouts smartphone app. Both iOS and Android apps can now make domestic and international calls through a Wi-Fi or data connection (like 4G). You can also receive calls if you have a Google Voice number. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are currently provided by Google free of charge from all countries where Hangouts calling is available.

What does this mean exactly?

  • For the frugal minimalist, as long as you have a data connection like WiFi, you can now make and receive unlimited domestic voice calls using a basic Apple or Android device. You can pay for a cheap prepaid option as a backup, or simply go without any cellular plan. You can also use voice over data to complement T-Mobile’s $30 plan which offers 5 GB of 4G data but only 100 voice minutes (this plan isn’t heavily-advertised, but scroll down and you’ll find it).
  • For the international traveler, as long as you have WiFi in a supported country you can call back home to the US for free using your phone. No foreign SIM card or even Skype account required.
  • For the international caller, you can more easily use Google Voice’s discounted calling rates which have recently been lowered again. For example, rates to India (mobile or landline) and Mexico (landline) are only 1 cent a minute.

iPhone / Apple iOS. Download the Google Hangouts app and the calling functionality is built-in.

Android. Download both the Google Hangouts app and the Hangouts Dialer app. If you need help, here are directions straight from Google: Make calls with Hangouts on Android.

SMS text message support is also supposedly coming, first to Android devices “in the next few days” and then to iOS devices “soon”.

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  1. Are you sure you can call the US from abroad? I thought I tried that and it didn’t work. Maybe I’m mistaken. SMS to the US work great when abroad.

  2. Just to confirm, if someone international calls me in the US – do I get charged for the incoming “international” call or does the number coming into my phone come from a US based number and thus I don’t get charged for the incoming call?

    • Ah just did some googling and seems all incoming calls only use your airtime minutes and do not incur any additional costs, if anyone can confirm that would be great!

  3. Does anyone know if you can make 911 calls with google voice? I know you cant with skype.

  4. This has been there for quite some time. What is new in this news. I have been using this since the start of this year on iPhone. Register google voice number in google hangouts and u can do calls over WiFi. Outgoing are decent but incoming calls, it is difficult since it keeps ringing for some time even after you answer the call and both of you are connected

    • Both apps were updated, Android update was more substantial. Voice calls in Hangouts were not previously available for Android users. iPhone app was updated as well, here is the list from iTunes:

      “- Make audio-only calls to anyone in your Hangouts contacts.
      – Enterprise support: login via Google Account.
      – Better Abuse/block handling and bug fixes.”

  5. Just a warning:
    If you are travelling abroad and forward your cell phone calls to google voice, turn it off before leaving. Otherwise you will pay international rates on all those forwarded calls (even though you didn’t answer). I learned this the expensive way.

  6. This is great.. going to be using this over Skype/Talkatone moving forward.. finally!!

  7. I use Google Voice to make free calls from my laptop. Super easy since I’m always on my laptop anyway. No need to juggle cell and computer. This hangouts app sounds awesome too!

    Ah, the joy I get from discovering something that’s free! Thanks for the post!!!

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