After a series of shootings and explosions occurred in Paris Friday evening, Google has made calls to France via its Hangouts service temporarily free. Callers can use the Hangouts app on Android, iOS, and the web to place calls to the country without incurring the normal international charges. The Google+ post making the announcement did not specify any particular countries, so presumably free calls are available from any location where Hangouts can be used. Read More
The Skype app is getting a bump to v5.5 today, and it comes with a pair of improvements. No, it's not going material—you can't have everything. What you do get is a faster way to sign in and link previews in chat.
Airtel is the largest mobile carrier in India, but even that kind of market position wasn't enough to push through a change the carrier desperately wanted. After announcing last week it would begin charging extra for VoIP data, Airtel has backed down in the face of bad press and angry customers. VoIP calls will continue to be billed as regular data, at least for now. Read More
Bharti Airtel is the largest cellular carrier in India with roughly 200 million subscribers. Basically, it has some weight to throw around, and it's using it to strike a blow against net neutrality. Airtel has amended its terms and conditions to stipulate that its data plans cover standard internet use only, meaning increasingly popular VoIP services like Skype are not included. If you want to make VoIP calls, it costs extra. People are not pleased.
There's an update to Hangouts Dialer rolling today to make those Google VoIP calls a little more useful. The dialer's new trick is that it can handle phone call intents from the system. That makes it easier than ever to place calls through Hangouts with your Google Voice number.
In this day and age, people increasingly dial a phone number expecting to reach you, not your house. As long as land lines are tied to a traditional phone, there's no way of knowing who's going to pick that thing up when it starts ringing, and people waiting on a call have to hover in the vicinity in order to hear it go off.
With Phone 2 Go, Time Warner Cable is giving customers the tools to free themselves from these restraints. The app lets users place calls, video chat, and send text messages using their home number regardless of whether they're anywhere near the house. Read More
Android users have yet another option for data-only calls and text messages today, as BitTorrent Inc. posted an alpha version of its Bleep communication client to the Play Store. Bleep is designed to be an alternative to conventional calling and texting systems like Skype or WhatsApp, and requires no central server or service. Bleep has been invite-only since July, but now it's ready to go public. Clients are also available for Windows and OS X computers.
The core idea here is privacy: because Bleep makes a person-to-person connection with no middleman, there's no way for anyone to hack in via remote and get to all that sweet, sweet, personally-identifiable communication. Read More
We saw Google Voice integration go live last night, but it contained a number of issues which this update is expected to fix. Yet as exciting as this is, what's more immediately striking is the new visual redesign.
With the amount of smudging this post required, I feel like I've been working on classified documents. The new version of Hangouts plasters your email address absolutely everywhere. It's not an issue when using the app, but it does make for some rather swirly screenshots.
Right out of the gate, the new UI is significantly greener. As Google prepares Hangouts for the next version of Android, it has made the app much more colorful, and the toolbar now has a vibrancy that it previously did not. Read More