Real Time Communications Featured Article

Videoconferencing Service Now Provides Free Mobile Calling

September 12, 2014

A growing service that provides voice and video chat capabilities through a social networking service announced this week that it will be offering free voice calling to all its users.

The service is Google Hangouts, and since its launch last year, it has provided video chat capabilities for users who want to speak to up to ten people at any one time.

 This has been popular with consumers and has also struck a chord with businesses that wish to provide basic videoconferencing abilities to their employees. Now, a Google blog post says, anyone with access to Hangouts can make free voice calls from their Android or iOS mobile devices or from their desktop/laptop Web browsers.

Google is apparently pushing the simplicity that a quick voice call can provide users, as it explains in its post:

"We know how important it is to keep in touch with friends and family, especially when they're spread around the world. Hangouts already makes it easy to send a quick message, or start a group video chat. But sometimes it's best to just call to say 'I love you,' and with the new version of Hangouts you can," the announcement states.

For Android users, it will be necessary for them to install the latest version of Hangouts as well as install the dialer that comes with it. Once they install both those pieces of software, users should be able to make free voice calls with the updated program.

For iOS and Web users, Google says, the new voice calling feature will be available automatically the next time users open their applications or browsers.

Google also makes a point that its international calling rates with Hangouts are priced lower than its competition. National voice calls made from within and to the U.S. are free; voice calls made to France, India, and Mexico are three cents, one cent, and five cents, respectively.

This may positively affect ordinary consumers who wish to make quick calls to their friends and family. Additionally, it may positively affect businesses that already make use of Hangouts for their videoconferences.

The features works across the big two mobile platforms, so employees may find it easy to access and utilize the software, and they may already be comfortable with software from using it to make video-based calls or perform text messages. Further integration into the business model with voice calling, if it works to users' preferences, should be a natural progression. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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