Google has extended international voice calls from Google Hangouts to India. Users can call phone numbers in United States and Canada for free, though Google mentions that calls to certain phone numbers in these two countries will cost $0.1 per minute. You can check out call rates for other countries here.
Android users need to install the Hangouts Dialer app to make international voice calls from India. The service is already active on the iOS app and on the web (Hangouts in Gmail, Google+ and the Chrome extension).
For the rest of 2014, the first minute of most calls to 25 countries (including Australia, China, France, Germany and the UK among others) are free and the charges will come into effect from the second minute onwards. Users need to buy a minimum of $10 calling credit to activate this. See the full list of 25 countries here.
Google Voice account, which is required to set up a Google Voice number, is not yet available in India. So, when you call someone your number will appear as ‘unknown’ on their caller ID. Without the Google Voice account it’s also not possible to receive phone calls, text messages, and voicemails in Hangouts.
Competition: Skype is the primary competitor for international voice calls from Hangouts. Last month, Skype announced that from November 10 onwards Indian users will no longer be able to make voice calls to landlines and mobiles within the country, but can continue to make free Skype-to-Skype calls within India, make calls to mobiles and landlines in India from outside the country and make International calls from India to mobiles and landlines in other countries.
Japanese mobile messaging and calling app LINE had extended its premium calling service LINE Call to India, in September this year. Viber had also launched a calling service called Viber Out last year. And WhatsApp’s voice calling feature has been delayed.
Last month, an ET report claimed that Google was working on a WhatsApp-like mobile messaging app for the Indian and other emerging markets. This app is reportedly in the early stages of development and is expected to be launched in 2015.