Make Free Voice or Video Calls with Google Hangouts

The Google Hangouts logo.
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 Google Hangouts may have slightly changed by decoupling somewhat from the Google's social network, Google Plus, but the service still offers the ability to chat with others in a variety of methods, including voice and video.

Google Hangouts is a great way to collaborate or just hang out with friends, especially when people aren't around their computers. Google Hangouts offers the ability to have voice and video chats using your PC or your mobile phone.

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Getting Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is available on many platforms:

Before you can start chatting with friends via video chat and by telephone, you must first learn how to start your own Hangout with Extras. Follow these easy steps to get started:

  • Sign in to your Google Plus account.
  • Scroll and locate the "Hangouts" feature, as illustrated above, to the right of the screen.
  • Click "Start a Hangout" to continue.
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Google Hangouts on the Web

Using Google Hangouts on the web to make voice or video chat calls, or send messages is simple. Navigate to the Google Hangouts website and sign in (you'll need a Google account, such as a Gmail account or Google+ account). 

Begin by selecting the type of communication you want to start by clicking Video Call, Phone Call or Message either from the far left menu or one of the labeled icons in the center of the page. For a phone call or message, you will be prompted to select the person to contact from your contacts list. Use the search field to find a person by name, email address or phone.

Clicking on Video Call will open a window and ask you for access to your computer's camera if you haven't already allowed this. You can invite others to the video chat by entering their email address and inviting them.

You may also share the link to the video chat manually by clicking "COPY LINK TO SHARE." The link will be copied to your clipboard. 

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Google Hangouts Mobile App

The mobile app version of Google Hangouts is similar in functionality to the website. Once you sign into the app, you will see your contacts listed. Tap one for options to send a message, start a video call or start a voice call.

At the bottom of the screen are buttons to bring up your contacts list as well as your favorites. You can also click the message icon to start a text message with a contact or click the phone icon to initiate a phone call.

Clicking the phone icon will display your call history. Click the icon that looks like phone buttons to bring up the dialer and enter the phone number you want to call. When you're ready to start the phone call, click the green phone button below the number pad.

You may also click the contacts icon in the upper right corner of the screen to search your Google contacts.

Tips for Video Chat in Google Hangouts

While video webcam chat in Hangouts is cool, some things might not translate as well to phone. Here are a few tips to make phone invitees feel just as welcome:

  • Ask each webcam user to listen via headphones/earbuds to reduce echo.
  • Speak clearly into your microphone so everyone can hear you.
  • If someone does something interesting on camera, describe it to those who cannot see their video window.