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Hangouts gets free voice calling, SMS and voice mail as Google aims to unify messaging

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Google took a major step towards unifying all of its messaging services under one app Wednesday by adding free voice calling and a number of other Google Voice features to Hangouts. Android users can make free voice calls as soon as they update to the newest version of Hangouts, while web and iOS users will have access to free calls immediately.

Hangouts users are also getting access to some [company]Google[/company] Voice features: Calls made from within the Hangouts client now feature a user’s Google Voice phone number as caller ID, and calls to that number automatically are being answered through the Hangouts app.

Users will also be able to send SMS text messages through Hangouts, and Google Voice voicemail messages will start to show up in Hangouts conversational streams — at least on Android and the web, that is. iOS will for now only feature voice calling, but Google is promising an update to the Hangouts iOS app soon as well.

Google also reduced some of the prices for international calls. Calling landline numbers in continental Europe via Hangouts, for example, is now as little as $0.01 per minute, whereas making these calls via Google Voice or Google Talk used to cost $0.02 per minute.

All of this is part of making Hangouts the centerpiece of Google’s messaging efforts, which traditionally been scattered across a number of apps and services. Hangouts VP of Engineering Chee Chew put it this way in a Google+ post:

“Hangouts remains the future of Google Voice, so we’re going to keep bringing the most-loved Google Voice features into the core Hangouts experience.”

9 Responses to “Hangouts gets free voice calling, SMS and voice mail as Google aims to unify messaging”

  1. Glenn Kromminga

    I can get part of my SMS messages to go through to the proper celphone, but I cannot get them all. If I say “hello” 50 times it will go through but if I compose another 50 word message it will not go though to the proper cellphone number?????

  2. Geeks and Computers

    Most comments here are not from Google Voice Users. I use it EVERY DAY and have since day one. I am on an Apple Device and I depend on it. My biggest issue for now is that I cannot send messages from the IOS device to any new numbers. If you are not in my contacts I cannot SMS out. I guess that’s part of what’s “coming”?

    I am anxious and hope that Google Voice which has answered all of my issues with 4 – 5 phone numbers. Now I have one. Mom calls and she gets a message that says hey Mom. Dad calls he gets one that says Hey dad. A workmate calls and they get a more professional sounding message, A client calls and they get a professional message. I love having control over VM routing. I hope that does not get lost.

    I am hoping that included with Hangouts is the ability to send a picture or video or a recording.

    My hope is that they keep all the great parts of Google Voice and add the features many apple users have already enjoyed for a long while.

    The other day a friend updated to Yosemite and was excited that they could text from their computer. This is something I have taken for granted being a Google Voice User. I was never tied to a single device for SMS messages. : )