With Google Voice merged into Hangouts, Google is going for the jugular.
It didn’t get much press, but starting on September 10th Google voice was merged into Google Hangouts. More importantly, this means that Android users can now to talk each other 100% free using just a data connection.
An associate and I were playing around with over the weekend and were blown away not only by the sound quality, but on how robust and reliable it was. How reliable? Enough for me to walk out of my apartment, and take the elevator down to the street; something that even my cell phone isn’t capable of doing.
This changes everything
I’m looking at a lot of use scenarios, but in the short term I have a US cell phone number and can be reached anywhere in the world on it. Moreover, with more people starting to use Hangouts, the concept of having a phone number is becoming a somewhat quaint idea.
The question is, will it actually matter? With most wireless phone companies are already offering unlimited calling as part of their plans (see article, “Free voice service for everyone“) most consumers won’t see much benefit from the service. My prediction is that this might hurt more traditional voice providers, especially landline providers, when people move their land lines over to Google Hangouts/Voice but this is yet to be seen.
The big benefit will probably be for roaming users who will be able to call back to the US and Canada from any location that provides a decent wifi connection.
Not a huge saving, but for me the most immediate benefit has been dropping US long distance from my phone plans.
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