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article imageFree hands-free Wi-Fi calling comes to Google Home

By James Walker     Aug 21, 2017 in Technology
Google has announced it's rolling out free calling to Google Home users in the U.S. and Canada. You can start calls using Google Assistant, letting you keep in touch with friends and family while you work. The recipient will not see your number though.
Google confirmed the launch of the feature in a blog post last week. It's another selling point for Google Home as the company tries to expand the device's capabilities to rival Amazon's Alexa. The two companies are currently vying for attention in the smart speaker space.
To start a call, you tell Google Assistant to "call" the name of the person you want to speak to. The assistant recognises the names of people in your Google Contacts list. It can also connect you to millions of businesses in its directory, identified by name, type or location. All the calling functionality is hands-free so you can ask Google Assistant to hang up at the end of your conversation.
Google's yet to enable caller identity support so your recipient will not be able to see your phone number. Depending on their device, it will display as "Unknown" or "No Caller ID." This could lead people to decline your calls, thinking them to be spam or automated messages.
Google said that calls will start showing your mobile number before the end of the year. Project Fi subscribers are already able to access the feature:
"The recipient will see 'Unknown' or 'No Caller ID.' By the end of the year, we'll make it possible for your own mobile number to be displayed," explained Google. "However, if you're a Google Voice or Project Fi user, you can already choose to have the person on the other end see your phone number by going to your Assistant settings accessible in the Google Home app."
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All the calls take place over your Wi-Fi connection so they don't consume your cellular allowance. You can already ask Google Assistant on your smartphone to make a call if you'd rather speak directly over a mobile network, rather than using the web.
Google Home can't call premium rate numbers or international numbers, keeping it as a way to communicate between friends, family and businesses. Additionally, 911 support isn't available, preventing you from accidentally calling the emergency services if voice recognition goes wrong.
Voice calls on Google Home are available today in the U.S. and Canada. There's no word yet on whether it will roll out to the U.K., the other market where the smart speaker is currently available.
More about Google, google home, smart speakers, IoT, Calling