Today Google quietly announced the return of voice calling to Gmail, as well as Google+ and the Hangouts Chrome extension. A cherished feature, voice calling wasn’t included when Hangouts and Gmail’s chat were integrated last May. While no voice integration is currently announced for Google’s mobile applications, it could be coming down the pipeline soon.
Google launched a unified version of Hangouts during it’s Google I/O event last May. The new Hangouts combined all the many forms of chat that Google offered into one app. Strangely Google Voice was left out, however -including the ability to make free (and/or cheap) calls from within Gmail. While many decried the removal of a favorite feature from Gmail, Google assured us Voice integration would be coming to Hangouts. It should be rolling out in the coming week. So, Hopefully Voice will be coming to Google’s mobile apps soon as well!
Google Senior Software Engineer, Alex Wiesen announced the return of the call functionality and the simple steps for making calls in a blog post:
For those of you who have taken the plunge and are using desktop Hangouts in Gmail, Google+, and the Chrome extension, we’ve heard loud and clear that you miss the ability to make calls from Gmail, so today, we’re happy to announce it’s back – and better than before! Even better: calls to the US and Canada are now free from all countries where Hangouts calling is available. And international rates remain super, super low.
Today’s launch also improves the desktop calling experience in a number of ways. For example: you can add multiple phone numbers and video participants to the same call; and you can play sound effects (like applause or laughter) with the Google Effects app.
To make a call from Hangouts, just look for the new phone icon in Gmail, or for the new “Call a phone” menu item in Google+ and the Chrome extension. And of course: if you haven’t yet tried Hangouts in Gmail, you can always click your profile photo in the chat list and select “Try the new Hangouts.”
Making calls from Hangouts is rolling out over the next couple of days. As we’ve said before: Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making and receiving calls is just the beginning. So stay tuned for future updates.
[Via: Gmail Blog]