Google's smart speaker just gained a new ability: making calls. Unlike Amazon, it doesn't require the other end to have a smart speaker. Users can literally call anyone on their phone using the Google Home, free of charge.
Google confirmed the new functionality on Wednesday, Aug. 16. It's only available for U.S. and Canadian residents, though. Google Home owners may call up anyone in their contacts and local establishments, and this won't cost a thing as long as the recipient is in one of the two countries.
Through this feature, Google has yet again reaffirmed its commitment to get ahead of Amazon and the Echo line of devices, which rolled out calling services earlier this year. That being said, Google deserves higher points because it's much more capable in this regard. How so? Well, read on.
How To Make Calls Using Google Home
Calling someone on Google Home sounds as simple as making a regular command. Just say "OK Google, call (name in your contact)." Alternatively, you can say "Hey Google," followed by the recipient's name. The person you're trying to reach must be listed in your Google Contacts or it won't work. You can also say the business' name or the specific numbers.
Google Home doesn't incur charges on your mobile plan because calls are made entirely via a Wi-Fi network. As a matter of fact, calls are handled directly on the device itself.
Making Calls: Google Home vs Amazon Echo
Placing calls on Google Home and Amazon Echo are fundamentally different, but Google's approach seems more commendable. The winning factor here is the fact that you can call any phone within the United States and Canada — for free. Whether or not they own a Google Home speaker, you can call them.
With Echo devices, you're actually calling the smart speaker or the Alexa app, which makes it a far less useful than Google's approach.
However, unlike Echo devices, there's no way for Google Home owners to call Google Home to Google Home because the feature only supports outgoing ones. Moreover, if you're not on Google Voice or Project Fi, people you'll call won't see a caller ID, which lessens the chances of them picking up.
Google says by the end of the year, numbers will be shown to call recipients. This is promising, sure, but it also implies that the feature is still a half-baked release. That said, it's safe to assume Google will release several improvements over time. It might not exactly replace your own telephone, but it's a good place to start.