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Google has finally added voice calling functionality to its Hangouts chat module within Gmail. The functionality was removed from the old Google Chat module inside Gmail (although many users, including me, are still able to use the function in the old Chat module) and was never added to the Hangouts module, that is primed to be the default chat application inside Gmail. Google has said that the rollout will take a couple days within which all users who’ve opted for Hangouts will be able to see the feature.
A post on the official Gmail blog explains that people making calls to and from the US and Canada using Hangouts won’t be charged anything while calls made using Hangouts in other supported countries will be charged low rates. For instance in India, making a local call using Google Hangouts will cost $0.02 (Rs. 1.20) per minute while making a call from India to France will cost $0.10 (Rs. 6 approx.) per minute. The new rollout of voice to Hangouts incorporates a lot of additional features from both pre-existing services, such as adding multiple phone numbers to the same Hangout call, hosting a Hangout with participants on video and just audio etc.
The voice calling feature is currently only being rolled out for desktops and not for the Hangout app for mobile OSes. As The Verge points out, it will be interesting to see if (and when) this feature rolls out to the Hangouts mobile app, because then, at least foreign calls to and from India will be significantly using Hangouts will be less expensive as compared to regular calls made using mobile networks.
According to the blog, “Hangouts is the future of Google Voice.” Let’s hope the feature does well and doesn’t get shunted off into non-existence, as quite a number of ‘exciting’ Google services inthepast.
Source: Gmail Blog via The Verge