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Review Hangouts Dialer
Call and text with Google Hangouts
Author: Tariq Abdulla
Date: 30 Sep 2014, tested on HTC One S
Free calls to the US, powerful functionality, intuitive interface
Hard to add credit, need a us phone number
Hangouts Dialer for Android FINALLY brings VoIP integration to the Hangouts app. At the moment you install hangouts dialer as a separate app, and may need to update Hangouts to get it working. But after that they function as one integrated program (they launch as one and the same thing, but you need to have both of them installed). That's a little bit odd. In fact, why not just make this a major update to Hangouts? Well, it's to do with the fact that this also integrates over people who are using Google Voice. In fact the VoIP functionality works via Google Voice, and this is still only available in the US.
Hangouts Dialer is a clear swipe at Microsoft's Skype; but it's a tough nut to crack. As the first major app to integrate VOiP with video calling, Skype has a massive advantage. Namely: people want to use these programs to stay in touch with their elderly relatives; and they have already invested time in teaching them how to use Skype, without having to get them started on something new. On the other hand, most people already have Google accounts, and bringing in the ability to make calls and send texts should be enough to make this is serious competitor.
The new interface is clean and intuitive. There are 3 tabs (contacts, messages and dial pad). The messages tab integrates both text messages and hangouts messages, so that where people have added their mobile number, you can choose what of message to send them. Likewise the contacts tab has both Google and phone number contacts. My only criticisms are that it should be easier to link number and email contacts, and it should be easier to add credit from within the app.
I compared Skype and Hangouts Dialer on prices for making calls to a number of countries. Skype was a generally a fraction cheaper per minute, but also has connection charges, so Google would win for shorter calls. Google are also offering the major incentive of free calls to the US and Canada. The quality of video calls in Hangouts Dialer is good, and makes full use of screen space, with options hidden until you tap the screen. In principle it can do everything that Skype can do, making it a serious competitor.