Google has added a new feature to its social networking platform Google+ Hangouts: a new free make phone calls from inside a hangout. This new feature is initially available inside Hangouts with extras (plus.google.com/hangouts/extras), and we currently support calls to the US and Canada (for free, in fact), revealed Google employee Jarkko Oikarinen.
“We are constantly listening to feedback so that we can make Hangouts even better for Google+ users, and we’re excited by the really cool ways people are using the product. Today we’re making it possible to make phone calls from inside a hangout, so you can dial people into the room from wherever they’re at. (Helpful for party lines and conference calls alike.),” writes Oikarinen.
The free offer is supposed to last through 2012. There’s no support for international calling, but Google recommends you use Google Voice for that. In addition to looping people on their phones into an existing group video chat, the feature can be used to make quick free 1-on-1 calls without having to set up a Google Voice account. In this way, Hangouts could more directly challenge Skype.
The steps for adding a telephone participant are straightforward:
- Click Invite at the top of the hangouts with extras window
- Click the Phone tab on the left of the window, and enter the phone number you wish to call
- Click Call now.