The transition from Google Talk to Hangouts added a lot of new features, but making phone calls from Gmail didn't come along for the ride. There was still a roundabout way of adding phone numbers to a Hangout, but it was too awkward to be useful. Finally, Google has announced that phone calls are again possible from Gmail, but that's not all. Phone calls are now built into Hangouts in Gmail, Google+, and the Chrome Extension. There are even some neat new features.

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To call a phone number from Hangouts, press the phone icon in Gmail, or choose the "Call a phone" menu item in Google+ and the Chrome extension. The feature should work just like before, but you can also add multiple phone numbers and video participants to the same Hangout. Sound effects like applause or laughter can be piped into the calls now, but I'm not sure that's a good thing.

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This feature is rolling out to everyone over the next few days, so don't panic if you don't see it yet. Google also hints this is just the beginning of phone integration. It reminds us Hangouts is the future of Google Voice, which is encouraging. Why can't the future be now?

[Gmail Blog]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • mgamerz

    And still no Google Voice integration...

    I feel like Google voice is going to go the way of Latitude :( (or wave)

    • ChanceIll

      Exactly. They seem to be completely ignoring voice. When Google does this, it's typically a sign of bad things to come

      • Scott

        If they kill Google Voice I hope they have a replacement for it with all the features. The main one I use is basically hosted voicemail. I love that feature.

        • Cody Curry

          They've promised this is "just the start" of GVoice integration.

          But they also promised MMS support.

          GVoice integration, with all my SMS archived like it is, and all my voicemails that are transcribed please? And MMS? Yes yes yes!

    • kh5

      From the the blog post linked at the end of the article: "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."

      • mgamerz

        Yeah so was MMS and look how far that's gotten.

    • Bob G

      Because Google Voice will be absorbed into Hangouts. They've said this before. The Voice team now works in Hangouts.

  • ProductFRED

    Too bad I ported out of Voice and onto T-Mobile ($30 plan) :/ I feel like Google has great products that just don't work so great together, aside from the core ones (Gmail, Calender, Docs). Voice frequently gets stuck sending messages, no MMS, no Hangouts integration, etc. I might port back if they integrate everything better and fix the major issues.

  • yahyoh

    what about Voice calls ( internet call ) ?

  • Nick Schiwy

    For those of you that are confused this IS integrated with Google Voice. I just used hangouts to call my cell phone and my Google Voice number came up as the incoming number. :)

    • mgamerz

      Google Talk calling always was hooked into google voice. Hangouts is pretty much google talk with a different interface.

      • Nick Schiwy

        I don't disagree with you but there are people who have said that they were worried that in the gmail application it would generate a random number to call with rather than use your Google voice number

    • Douglas Thurston

      ye i saw that, disappointing. I wanted my carriers phone number to be displayed on the other end.
      Also text messages from my carriers number are seen under the hangouts android app but not used in the hangouts under chrome.
      They still ahve bugs.
      I wish my carriers phone number can be used and not googles via my phone and chrome.

  • Cody Dean

    I received a phone call to my cell number about 5 minutes ago - and at the same time my phone was ringing - I had an incoming call pop-up on my Hangout chrome extension which showed who was calling - Awesome!

  • mgamerz

    So are they STILL trucking over your chat histories to Hangouts? How long does that take google?

  • http://thedangerbrain.com/ Alfonso Surroca

    I think the Google Voice underpinnings are bigger than people think. On multiple occasions since Talk became Hangouts, I've been able to answer phone calls on my desktop through the Hangouts Chrome extension. e.g. I get a phone call, my phone rings, but a Chrome notification pops up asking me whether or not I'd like to accept a call from X caller. If I accept, it launches a Hangout with the caller and the caller is none the wiser.

    • Freak4Dell

      Is this something new for the Chrome extension? This was possible in the GMail version of Talk for a long time, as long as you had the forward calls to chat option enabled in Voice settings.

      • http://thedangerbrain.com/ Alfonso Surroca

        I checked my Google Voice settings, and sure enough, I found what you're referring to. Awesome!

  • xnifex

    Did they ever add back in a way to go invisible & to see if someone is online vs away? I refuse to update my version of google talk until this is brought back.

    • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard


  • Idon’t Know

    Requires a Google + account with automatic uploads of photos and all of Googles other Google + obnoxiousness. There are other options to google voice now and I will use one or more of them rather than be forced into Google +.

  • John Kuang

    You guys have been using the term PSA way too much.

  • Taylor LaBrier

    "Sound effects like applause or laughter can be piped into the calls now, but I'm not sure that's a good thing." Hahahaha!