Google’s latest update to the Hangouts iOS apps enables making and receiving Google Voice calls. Users worldwide also get free calls to the U.S. and Canada.

Google Hangouts Google Hangouts for iOS gets Google Voice calling capability

Google has released an update to its Hangouts app for iOS that enables calling telephone numbers in the U.S. and Canada. This is a move seen as not quite characteristic of the search giant, which usually launches features for its own Android platform first. The Google Voice calling integration was first released for the desktop (browser) based version of the app, however.

Google Voice Hangouts Google Hangouts for iOS gets Google Voice calling capability

In its latest release of Hangouts — version 1.3.0 — the application now comes with a dialing keypad and access to one’s phonebook, which enables access to calls to regular phones. Through the latest update, users are also able to receive Google Voice calls through Hangouts, which brings incoming voice call capability that was previously unavailable to Google’s universal chat client.

Users can enable incoming calls from Google Voice through the “incoming phone calls” item within the settings.

Previously, iOS users who wanted this functionality needed to install an alternative app, such as Talkatone, Mo+ GV Phone and Groove IP. As anticipated earlier, this update integrates Google Voice into hangouts, although it seems Android users would have to wait for the next major release for that platform.

There are some limitations and issues, however, as raised by The Verge. First, users who are already forwarding their Google Voice calls to their own mobile number will receive double incoming calls — one through the regular telephone network, and another through Google Voice.

Secondly, the app does not have SMS support. Users will still need the Google Voice app to send and receive messages.

Another concern to note is that outgoing Google Voice calls via Hangouts are made via data, and not through the regular cellular network, as with the native Google Voice app. This could be a concern for Google Voice users who prefer to save on their data charges. However, it is a big boon for users who are outside of the U.S. and want to place calls through Google’s network.

Google clarifies this difference. “If I type in a number, it sends data to Google and then Google actually calls the phone number,” said the company through a statement. “This is different from what Google Voice does today (it actually dials a random number). So you’re using data, not minutes from your carrier.”

There is no word whether the same features will be integrated into Hangouts for Android, but this might be expected, given Google’s aim to unify its communication efforts under Hangouts.

Hangouts is available for iOS, Android and web.

Source and image credit: The Verge