Google Assistant-enabled smart speakers have been able to make calls for a while now in countries like Australia, Canada, and the US. But the functionality was limited to outbound calls placed from the speaker itself. Now it looks like inbound call support is coming to Google's smart home products, but only on a single carrier in Australia.
As part of today's Pixel 4a festivities, Google has also announced a new feature that's coming to older Pixels as well. Remember Google's Live Caption feature that transcribes speech in real-time, on-device, for things like videos? Well, Live Caption will now also work for video and voice calls — more useful than ever in these socially distant times.
Call Screen debuted last year on the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, and has since expanded to the newer Pixel phones and a handful of other devices. If you're lucky enough to have this on your phone, you never have to answer another call without knowing who's on the other end. Google might be planning to automate part of the process, too. According to XDA, Call Screen may automatically screen select calls and hang up on spam.
Feature parity is a huge point of contention in Android, and now in Google Assistant speakers too. Whenever Google announces a new ability for its Home line-up, you can toss a coin and it's pretty much 50-50 whether this will work on Assistant speakers from other brands. For phone calls, the situation has been more dire. Even though Google Home users could make a voice call starting August 2017 (in the US first), those with third-party speakers didn't have that option. But things are getting better.
There are (apparently) people who want to use the same number on multiple phones. In that case, you could (but should not) get the Verizon Palm Phone. For those who want it the other way around, the new My Numbers service from Verizon lets you add more numbers to a single phone, but it'll cost you more money.
Amazon has so many Echo things now that it can be hard to keep track. There's the Echo Show, Plus, Spot, Dot, and Squiggle. Okay, I made that last one up, but you never know what Amazon is going to do next. Today, it's releasing the previously announced Echo Connect, which links your home phone to Alexa devices. You can order yours today for $34.99.
Back at Google I/O 2017, Google announced that hands-free phone calling would come to the Home smart speaker. The feature finally arrived in August, but with one caveat - it could only use a randomly-chosen number or your Google Voice/Project Fi number.
Phone calls are not my favorite thing in the world, but I suppose if I have to make one I'd prefer the minimum of effort to be expended. Wear Dialer from HuskyDEV lets you initiate calls from your wrist. That sounds easy.
The Google dialer is what ships on all Nexus phones, but OEMs usually create their own vastly different dialer app. Beginning with the v2.05 update, you can install Google's version on most other phones too. This update rolled out a few weeks ago, but it seems that people are still just noticing, so let's get this all out in the open.
Viber is what you get when you take a free VoIP service, create an app for it, and smother it with purple. Any two people with the app installed can communicate with one another via voice or text entirely for free. Now the team is adding in the ability to make low-cost calls to any dedicated phone number.
Users can buy credits for "Viber Out" via in-app purchases within either the mobile or desktop software. Prices start at 1.9 cents per minute and change depending on which country you're calling. In some places, prices will also vary depending on whether you're calling a landline or a mobile phone.