May 21, 2013
Google Hangouts Upgrade Does Not Support Voice Calls
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Google has removed the ability to make Google Voice calls on your computer within its Hangouts service.
Users first started reporting the issue within the website's support forums, pointing out how a new version of Hangouts doesn't support outbound calls on the Internet.
"Bought all this google voice credit to be able to make phone calls from gmail from laptop using the gmail chat gadget that had the “call phone” button, but now gmail phone call gadget is gone, replaced by hangouts and there is no “call phone” button. How do I make phone calls now from laptop," user Mohan Singh 12345 wrote in the forum.
Google's Nikhyl Singhal admitted that the new version of Hangout's doesn't "yet" support outbound calls on the web and in the Chrome extension. However, Singhal did add that Google does support inbound calls to Google Voice numbers.
"We're working hard on supporting both, and outbound/inbound calls will soon be available. In the meantime, you can continue using Google Talk in Gmail," Singhal wrote on his Google+ page. "Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making/receiving phone calls is just the beginning. Future versions of Hangouts will integrate Google Voice more seamlessly."
Google announced in December that it would continue to offer free voice calling through Gmail in 2013. The company said that users in Canada and the US will be able to continue to "connect with friends and family" for free throughout this year. This service works on mobile devices as well, such as Android and iPhones. The company began opening up the device to Apple iPhone users back in 2010.
Google Voice first emerged back in 2009, becoming direct competition for Skype which offers the same service but with a fee. Skype offers computer-to-computer phone calls for free to users, but those who wish to call a landline from their computer have to purchase Skype credits. Users are able to store transcripts of voicemail phone message in their email inbox as well, enabling them to search for specific information within a phone message later on.
The company said last year that they have plans to eventually start charging users for the service once it reaches a certain level of quality. Whether or not Google is preparing for that right now remains to be seen, but what the company has assured is that the service will be back online eventually.