Google brings back phone calls to Hangouts

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When Google made the move earlier this year to start consolidating all of their communication platforms to the Hangouts app, one feature that went missing was the ability to include phone calls as part of a Hangout. In response to user demand, Google announced today that they have brought that feature back to the desktop versions of Gmail, Google+ and the Chrome extension. Possibly due to the negative vibes created by removing the feature, Google not only brought the feature back, they have improved the calling features by making calls to U.S. or Canadian numbers free.

Users will also find they can add multiple phone callers or video callers onto the same Hangout, creating a virtual conference call system in the process. Those who have used Hangouts know Google includes some video effects for those participating to help liven things up a bit. Google has added some sound-based effects so audio-only participants calling in on a phone are not left out in the cold.

The new features are rolling out now and should take a couple days to reach all users. Once available, users can look for the new phone icon in Gmail or the “Call a phone” menu item in Google+. Unfortunately, no word yet on when SMS support may be coming to the new Hangouts platform.

source: Gmail Blog


About the Author: Jeff Causey

Raised in North Carolina, Jeff Causey is a chief financial officer and licensed CPA in Durham, North Carolina. Jeff has owned an HTC EVO, a Samsung Note II, and a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1. He currently uses an LG G3 and a Nexus 7 (2013). Recently Jeff added Google Glass to his stable of tech gadgets. Unfortunately, his wife and kids have all drunk the Apple Kool-Aid and have i-devices. Life at home often includes demonstrations of the superiority of his Android based devices. In his free time, Jeff is active in his church, a local MINI Cooper car club, and his daughter's soccer club. Jeff is married, has three kids, and a golden retriever.