Hands-Free Calling Comes to Google Home

Posted on August 16, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Cloud, Mobile, Smart Home with 13 Comments

Hands-Free Calling Comes to Google Home

At its developer conference in May, Google said that it would be adding free phone calling capabilities to its Google Home appliance this year. Today, the search giant said it had begun rolling out this functionality to customers in the U.S. and Canada.

“You’ll soon be able to make a call on Google Home—hands-free—in the U.S. and Canada,” Google product manager Deniz Binay writes. “Call anyone (at their home, on their mobile or at their office). It’s easy to use, and it’s free.”

Hands-free calling on Google Home appears to work as you’d expect. Simply say a phrase like “Hey Google, call Stephanie,” and the appliance will connect you to that contact over Wi-Fi. Because Google Home already works with multiple accounts and does voice recognition, it will work correctly for all users.

But there are caveats. In addition to being U.S- and Canada-only, this functionality has just begun rolling out, so not all users will see it immediately. And for now, hands-free calling will not correctly identify you on the other end: The call recipient will see either “Unknown” or “No Caller ID”; Google says it will display your mobile number by the end of the year instead. (Two exceptions: Google Project Fi and Google Voice users can configure those services to display your number correctly now.)

You can learn more about this functionality from the Google support site.

 

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Comments (13)

13 responses to “Hands-Free Calling Comes to Google Home”

  1. Avatar

    nbplopes

    I don't understand this way of rolling out features ...

    Why is handsfree calling such a difficult feature that needs this kind of rollouts?


    PS: Actually I can image some hurdles ... that other company has sorted already but did in one shot as it should be the case here too.

    • Avatar

      SvenJ

      In reply to nbplopes: And what other company would that be? We can say Amazon here if that is what you are thinking. Echo doesn't do PSTN dialing at all. Their calling and messaging is limited to Echo to Echo device. Apple's and the Harmon Kardon Cortana device aren't out yet.
      What's difficult here is that this does not use the customer's cell or PSTN. It is WiFi to your ISP, to some Google IP to PSTN bridge. They are funding that connection and those PSTN calls. It is akin to Skype out, which you pay for.
      That's one reason the outbound caller ID doesn't work. They use their own bridge number because they don't really have access to yours, unless you have a Google number, Fi, Voice.


      • Avatar

        nbplopes

        In reply to SvenJ:


        Hi. The difficulty is not that one for a company like Google. They have solved the described problem several times with limited impact. The problem is that Google wants to be a carrier, so it is more a Political problem than a technical one.


        If not for thiz all Google needs to have/sell is a device that could relay calls from PSTN line to the speaker and vice versa via Wifi. A standard PSTN phone that could relay calls over wifi to any google device in the wifi network. Even the speaker could have already PSTN input or its routers (mesh).


        SIDENOTE: Personally i find little need for this. Would prefer a smartwatch for hands free calls.


        EDIT: Guess what company is relaying phone calls (mobile) between devices built by them.


  2. Avatar

    ChesterChihuahua

    Amazing... this will be just like calling people on your cutting-edge speakerphone in the 1980s. We truly live in wondrous times !

    • Avatar

      Steve Martin

      In reply to ChesterChihuahua:

      That's true, as long as we ignore a few things. Like being able to state the name or number by voice, from across the room. Or not having to pay toll fees if it is outside of your calling area. Or using a network connection you already have.


      Otherwise, sure, it's exactly the same thing.

  3. Avatar

    Mark from CO

    Paul:


    The Evil Empire continues to march on. Release a product that has at least some functionality and then quickly iterate, iterate, and iterate. With each iteration, new function is added. Before you know it, you have a really good product and an thriving ecosystem. The Rebel Alliance, on the other hand, tries to develop a complex product that meets every conceivable need. The product comes out too late, doesn't have a good ecosystem to support it, is cumbersome due to its complexity, and often really doesn't meet real needs, which have been shaped by the iterations of the Evil Empire.


    Yes, these are the same customers that will use Android. But they give Google another source of highly valuable platinum data flows to feed its cloud and AI engines. Data flows Microsoft looses.


    Mark from CO

  4. Avatar

    unitedtaps

    If you say anything Google doesn't like, they discontinue the call.

  5. Avatar

    chaad_losan

    Imagine the sales calls you will get all day long!!!! You have no idea who it is and you have to answer it!!

    No Thanks.

  6. Avatar

    Waethorn

    Just in the last month or so, I've seen lots of low-level updates brought to Android through apps. I just got Google Assistant on my LG V20 yesterday as a replacement for Google Now on Tap.

  7. Avatar

    Bats

    I don't have it yet, but I hope the quality of the sound will be enterprise grade for both sides of the line. I always found to be a big difference in quality between a speakerphone from a home phone versus a corporate one. The corporate one seems to be designed to be much better, especially if it's designed to be used for Gotomeetings. I hope Google Home gives us that same quality. 

  8. Avatar

    melinau

    Despite rave reviews I find Google Home to be underwhelming.

    If it implemented DLNA then things might improve on the media front, as I want to access stuff on my NAS

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