Google has finally given the Android version of Hangouts the ability to make and receive calls using your Google Voice number. Hangouts calling is VOIP based and uses data rather than your cellular minutes. This is great news if you want to make free calls using WiFi or are using an all-IP mobile operator like FreedomPop. Calls to US and Canadian landline and mobile numbers are free, as are calls to other Hangouts users anywhere in the world. Rates for international calls are pretty low too.
To start using Hangouts as a free VOIP calling app you need install a new Hangouts Dialer app from the Play Store and you also need to be running the just released version 2.3 of the Hangouts app. The Hangouts update is being rolled out gradually over the next couple of days so you may not see it yet (I didn't). If you can't wait Phandroid has installable APKs for both Hangouts V2.3 and the Hangouts Dialer.
I grabbed Hangouts V2.3 from Phandroid and installed the dialer from the Play Store. Calling from Hangouts works pretty well on my T-Mobile LG G2. I did a few test calls and call quality was excellent with less lag than with other VOIP apps I've used Including Talkatone, cSipSimple and the FreedomPop app.
This early release is not integrated with the Android dialer, you have to use the Hangouts Dialer app to make calls. The Dialer does import your Android contacts so I don't consider it much of a hardship to have to use it to make Hangouts calls.
However, there are a couple things that I'd like to see fixed in the new Hangouts:
- I'm probably missing something but it doesn't seem to be possible to send an SMS from Hangouts using your Google Voice number. The Hangouts documentation says there should be a "Send SMS from" option in the SMS portion of the Hangouts menu. But the option's not there for me and all my texts for being sent using my mobile number. I've disabled SMS in Hangouts so that I can still use the old Google Voice app to send texts from my Google number.
- If you use the Google Voice Web site to switch which phones you calls go to, you won't find Hangouts listed as something to enable or disable calls to. The old Google Talk option is still there but disabling it doesn't stop calls from going to Hangouts. By default all calls now go to Hangouts. You can disable calls from going to Hangouts using a setting that'd deeply buried in the Hangouts app. To get to it:
That means that to switch between having Google Voice calls go to your mobile number or to Hangouts, you have to go the the Web site to enable or disable forwarding to your mobile number and then enable and disable incoming calls in the Hangouts app. Not very convenient. I hoping that eventually Hangouts let you which Google Voice forwarding between all your phones as well as Hangouts.
- Tap the "hamburger" menu icon in the top left corner of any screen of the Hangout app.
- Tap Settings
- Tap your Google account
- Scroll down and check the box labeled "Incoming phone calls"
- The initial release of VOIP enabled Hangouts is already very useful. I'm sure there will be a bunch of updates to Hangouts that will improve usability and ease the minor pain points.
It also sounds like the full integration rollout isn't going all that smoothly. Droid Life found a Google Plus post by a member of the Google Voice team saying that Google has rolled back the integration of Google Voice SMS with Hangouts for at least some of the users who already opted in.
I don't see the lack of full GV/Hangouts integration as a big deal. Even though the rollout ism't complete, if you update to Hangouts 2.3 and install the Hangouts Dialer you can.
- Make calls with your Google Voice number using data (WiFi or cellular) in Hangouts 2.3
- Receive calls to your Google Voice number using data (WiFi or cellular) in Hangouts 2.3
- Make calls from your Google Voice number using cellular minutes with the Android dialer or the Google Voice app
- Have calls to your Google Voice number forward to any of your phone numbers.
- Send texts with your Google Voice number using data (WiFi or cellular) using the Google Voice app
- Receive texts to your Google Voice number using data (WiFi or cellular) in the Google Voice app or have them forwarded to your email
Even without full Google Voice Hangouts integration we already have all the features of the old Google Voice plus the ability to make and receive Google Voice calls using data instead of minutes.
Source, images: Google Official Blog