Google has updated Hangouts, adding the ability to place free voice calls - also known as VoiP calls- through Hangouts for Android, iOS, and web.
Your call is free when placed to other Hangouts users and phone numbers in the US and Canada. In other words, calls to the US and Canada are provided by Google free of charge from all countries where Hangouts calling is available (even if you don't have Google Voice). International calls will cost a "low" rate, according to Google, which also noted this Hangouts update is rolling out over the next few days.
"We know how important it is to keep in touch with friends and family, especially when they’re spread around the world," explained Google in a blog post published on 10 September. "Whether it’s your sister in Paris, your best friend in Boston or Jenny at 867-5309, Hangouts lets you call the people you care about at little or no cost. So download the app and dial your loved ones today."
In addition, according to TechCrunch, Google Voice and Hangouts are more unified after today's update news. More specifically, Google Voice for Android and web users will soon begin seeing their voicemail transcriptions and texts alongsider their Hangouts conversations. They'll even be able to SMS reply in the Hangouts app but while using the Google Voice service.
One more thing to note: Google emphasised that you have to download Hangouts' accompanying dialer in order to activate free voice calls on Android. The iOS and web apps should be ready to go as soon as you open them.