Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Google Hangouts with Phone Call Explain

I am sure many people are excited about the new Google Hangouts that released earlier this week. Google announced in this blog about the making phone call from Hangouts on Android, iOS and web. However there are some confusion on how to use this new feature with or without Google Voice. This blog post is to explain in detail with screenshot of on how to make it works.

The explanation before is mainly based on my own experience on some of my Android devices (Nexus 4 and Samsung Galaxy). I have no clue but hope that the same experience apply to iOS. 

First you need the Hangouts Version 2.3. You will also need the new Hangouts Dialer.

If you didn't see the latest version on your Google Play store, be patience as the latest Hangouts version is rolling out to all users.

Once installed, you should see three tabs on the Hangouts home page. If you don't have the Hangouts Dialer installed, even with the Hangouts Version 2.3, there will be only two tabs without the dialer tab (in red rectangle).

Now the tricky and confusing part. The Hangouts app description states that user can make phone call, similar as the blog mentioned that it can make voice calls. There are actually three type of calling in Google Hangouts. In order for make it easy for clarification, I am going to refer them as,

1) Video Call (as we all familiar with)
2) Voice Call
3) Phone Call

I am going to refer Voice Call as Google Hangout to Google Hangout without the phone number. It is similar like how you do it now with Video Call but without the video. This Voice Call feature has been there for a while just like the Video Call.

The new feature is the Phone Call. It is like VoIP (Voice over IP) with a phone number to call another phone number. If you have Google Voice integrated, it used the Google Voice number. If not, it uses a phone number which it shows as UNKNOWN number when recipient receive the call. I will elaborate more on this later.

Let's see how we make a Video Call. In the Hangouts on Android, select a contact on the first tab (contact) or second tab (existing conversation), click on the video button on the top right and it will initiate a video call to the person(s). Most people know about this.

Next to the video button, there is a phone button. This button actually is for both Voice call and Phone call. However, it is only Voice call by default.

If you click the phone button, it will initiate a Voice call to the hangout user(s). Now you scratch your head of what you did wrong as you were expecting it to be a Phone call.

The tricky part! See the green Hangouts icon on the bottom left? Previously this is a Hangouts status of the contact. Now it actually indicates more than the status.

In order to Phone call a person, you can to dial / call the person from the Hangout Dialer tab (3rd tab) on the main menu. You search the person name or phone number and initiate the call. Depending if you integrate with Google Voice, Google Hangouts uses only data (eg. Wifi) to call the phone number with your Google Voice number or an unknown number (Called ID shown on recipient screen). Cool thing about Google Voice integration is that people identify you (if they have your Google Voice number in their contact) when they receive the call, and can call you back or even SMS you. You can't do that with the unknown number obviously.

This is cool and stuff. What about if I want to Phone call or SMS someone from the existing conversion like the previous screen? Ah.. here is something not as straight forward. On the Contact tab (first tab), search for the person or the phone number (it has to be previously saved in your Google Contact). You should see the drop down with SMS option.

If you have multiple listing, click either one of the phone number (with SMS button) but not the with Hangouts icon.

You may see the message stating that the Hangouts and SMS conversion is now merged. You can now send SMS and Hangouts message from Google Hangout by switching between them. This is the most important part (or confusing part).

If you click on the SMS icon, you will see Hangouts and SMS entries. The selection determines the type of message (Hangouts message or SMS) will be send AND also if you will be making Voice call or Phone call. Hooah!

If you still remember, previously we only have the Hangouts icon on bottom left, and we have video and voice button on the top right. By performing this above step then you will get the SMS / Phone option. Those with eagle eye will see that when switch to SMS icon, there is only phone button on the top right.

If you click on the phone button, a pop up screen show the option of calling with data (Hangouts icon) and calling using Cellular network (Phone icon). If you have Google Voice integrated, the data option use your Google Voice number (still using data). Otherwise, it calls with an unknown number as Caller ID shown on recipient screen. The phone icon call using cellular network with your cell phone number.

Now your call will be a Phone call as you were expected!

What about receiving call?

Now you know that if you don't have a Google Voice number integrated with the Google Hangouts, the outgoing Phone call via data will shown as unknown number as Caller ID on recipient screen. Mean you won't be able to receive call through data, at least through Google Hangouts. You can still receive regular call through cellular network with your own phone number.

This is where Google Voice really shine. With Goolge Voice integrated into Hangouts, you could enable Hangouts to receive call made to the Google Voice number. Go to Settings, select the email account and check the box for Incoming Phone calls.

To be more specific, checking this box will enable call made to Goolge Voice ring Hangouts for this particular phone. This is important. If you are Google Voice user, you are likely to have previously configured Google Voice to forward call to your cell phone number through cellular network. If that's the case, you need to decide if you want the call now to ring the Hangout (via data) or like a regular phone call (via cellular network). What great about this setting is it only apply to that particular phone. So if you have multiple phones, you could configure one to receive call via data (eg. wifi) and the other still through cellular network. With Google Voice, now you can make or receive call with only data (VoIP)!

Besides the Android setting mentioned above, calls to your Google Voice number will automatically ring Hangouts in Gmail, Google+ and Hangouts Chrome app.,

Just a short explanation for the Chrome Hangout app. Similar idea applies. The phone button is for Voice Call. After you click on the SMS button and select a phone number, another chat window pop up. The phone button will be a Phone call via data (obviously) to the phone number.

That's all for now. Hopefully this help clear up some of your confusion and allow you to enjoy this great feature.

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