Google announced today in a blog post that they will now be offering free voice calls via its Google Hangouts App for both Android and iPhones. They state that when using the App you can make calls to any phone number within the United States or Canada for free. However, International calls made with the Hangouts app will cost a very modest rate.
This is great news for us frugal folks who like to take advantage of the Internet to make other services, such as phone calls more efficient and cheap. And while I mostly focus on cheap mobile phone plans around here, this new version of the Hangouts app and its ability to make free domestic calls within the U.S. can be a very effective way to lower costs on one’s prepaid mobile phone plan.
Lets say you have a prepaid mobile phone plan or even a tiered rate plan like Ting and you are using a smartphone with the Android operating system. Well, if you enable the Wi-fi on the phone to access the nearest wireless Internet connection like your home or office, you can use the Hangouts app to make free calls without using up any of the voice or data minutes from your prepaid plan. Thus you end up saving a bunch of money on that prepaid service, extending the time between having to top up on voice minutes.
In order to use the free calling feature of Hangouts for Android, you’ll need to install the latest version of the Hangouts App (v2.3) and the dialer app to turn on the calling feature. For those using iPhones, you’ll just need to either install the Hangouts iPhone app or simply update it if you already have it.
Hangouts International Rates
As mentioned above, the app isn’t completely free if we are talking about International calling but still could offer significant savings. On the Google Hangouts calling rates page they point out a few comparisons and example rates for calling different countries. For example calling Mexico using the app is a mere 5 cents per minute whereas a major carrier would charge 28 cents a minute. Calling India would only cost 1 cent per minute compared to 3 cents for a major carrier.
To check Hangouts call rates click here and enter in the country you’re interested in and it should give you their rate along with a comparison rate for a major carrier. Of course these are the same rates that are used by the Google Voice web app that has already been in existence for several years now.
Google Voice Integration
For those of you already familiar with Google Voice, you’ll likely realize that this is simply the same type of VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) that has already been available except now they’ve integrated it with their Hangouts app so that it can be used on smart phones with either Android or iOS operating systems.
If you ask me, this has been a long time coming and am surprised that it took this long. There had been rumors in the past that Google would get into the wireless phone service industry but to be honest they were already poised to compete with its Google Voice service. This further integration now makes them just a bit more competitive, not just with other VOIP services but possibly with MVNOs like Republic Wireless for instance. This could get very interesting down the road, lets see what happens.
By the way, if there are any readers who use the Hangouts App to make free phone calls please leave a review in the comments below and let us know what you think.