Google has finally decided to start integrating Google Hangouts with its older sibling Google Voice. We started hearing murmurs about this yesterday but it seems we’ve woken up this morning to the news that it’s done. A new app, called Hangouts Dialer, has landed on the play store and it enables some cool new features inside Google Hangouts.
Primarily, it gives users the ability to make phone calls from within Hangouts. So what, you might think. Well, here’s what. Users can place a call to any phone number in the world, with calls to the US and Canada being free of charge. Calls between two Hangouts users will also be free. While we can’t in Australia, users in the US can also pair a Google Voice number to their Hangouts service to allow calls from the POTS (plain old telephone system).
The Hangouts Dialer app requires Hangouts 2.3, which you might not have yet, so we’ve provided a download mirror link for you. If you’re the more cautious kind, just wait for it to roll out via the Play Store updates, which will probably happen in the next day or so.
There’s some new things in Hangouts 2.3 as well, most noticeably the update to the Android L ‘Material Design’ look. The header / action bar is actually thicker than it used to be (something I think is a backward step), and the swipe-to-archive gesture is also gone, another backward step. Swiping now takes you between a contacts tab and a list of previous/existing chats… something that some might not find very useful at all.
Let us know what you think of these new features!