It’s finally all coming together. As many suspected would eventually happen, Google Hangouts is finally—in an update rolling out over the next few days—going to be getting integration with Google Voice. The latter service seemed to definitely be getting neglected by Google as of late, with much of the company’s focus going to its Hangouts platform. But it appears that Voice may even moreso eventually become a thing of the past because, starting today, Google is putting it straight into Hangouts as part of a new update to its apps across Android, iOS, and the web.
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On the Android side, you’ll find that the new app is getting redesigned to live up to the upcoming standards of Android ‘L’ and its Material Design scheme. It has long felt like the Hangouts app on Android was leagues behind that of iOS—which to some made no sense at all—but version 2.3 is rolling out starting today and it appears that today’s update is a big one with a few key interface redesigns. On Android, you need to install a separate, accompanying dialer to turn on voice calls.
Notably, for these users, Hangouts calls can now come from your Google Voice number. Features long part of the Google Voice app, including voicemail text transcriptions and text messages that were sent your Google Voice phone number, will now be integrated straight into the Hangouts app. And for text messages, users can decide between replying to each message from the number that received it (Voice or cell number), or you can pick one static number for all replies.
Starting today you can make voice calls from Hangouts on Android, iOS and the web. It’s free to call other Hangouts users, it’s free to call numbers in the U.S. and Canada, and the international rates are really low. So keeping in touch is easier and more affordable than ever.
On iOS and the web, you’ve long been able to make voice calls, but it’s kind of been a feature that Google didn’t put much emphasis on. Today, Google says that you’ll voice calls available “the next time you open the app,” but we already knew that. Now, Google offers free VoiP calls to all phones in the U.S. and Canada across all three platforms.