Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
mac_guy
Posts: 210
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 2:37 pm

Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by mac_guy »

I've been experimenting with Google Hangouts on my iPhone. I am really surprised by some of its features. When you sign up, you can get a free voice phone number with an area code from your geographic area.

You can then make calls using the Hangouts app to other actual landline and cellphone numbers. So, on your side, the Hangouts app sends and receives voice data through the internet. But, if you are calling a landline, Google will actually route that voice data onto the landline phone network.

I realize this is nothing amazing and that other companies (like Skype) have been doing it for quite a while. What surprises me, though, is that Google charges nothing for routing your call through the landline or cellphone network. The Hangouts app doesn't even attempt to advertise or make money for Google in some other way.

I don't quite understand how that happens. At some point Google has to take the voice data from the internet and get it onto the cellphone or landline networks. They don't own the cellphone and landline networks. I'm assuming they have to pay some other provider for access to that network.

My point in asking these questions is that I'm wondering if there is a catch with Hangouts. I want to use it full-time for all my voice calls. I have a unique situation in that I have a grandfathered Verizon Wireless unlimited data plan. If I want, I would tell Verizon to bring me down to a tiny amount of voice minutes (say 30 minutes.) I could then port my phone number to Google Voice and have change my regular Verizon cellphone number. All my calls would then be routed through the Hangouts app.

I'm worried, however, that at some point there will be a charge for this Hangouts service or perhaps it isn't as reliable as it looks. Anyone else use Hangouts for most of their voice calls?
Afty
Posts: 1450
Joined: Sun Sep 07, 2014 5:31 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Afty »

I tried using Hangouts for all my voice calls, but I found it unreliable and the audio quality poor. That was a couple years ago though, and maybe the app has improved.
User avatar
Tycoon
Posts: 1500
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 7:06 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Tycoon »

My son uses it to make free calls from college. It's been reliable for him.
Emotionless, prognostication free investing. Ignoring the noise and economists since 1979. Getting rich off of "smart people's" behavioral mistakes.
User avatar
Thrifty Femme
Posts: 537
Joined: Sun Apr 12, 2015 1:54 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Thrifty Femme »

I haven't found it reliable for voice over a cell phone data plan; it should be more reliable over fast WiFi.
User avatar
reriodan
Posts: 393
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:08 am

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by reriodan »

Yep, works great for me, use it all the time, literally for every phone call I make. And with freedompops freemium plan it is how I get free cell phone service.
hdcd
Posts: 69
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:09 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by hdcd »

I've had google voice since it was first introduced when you could choose your own phone # and it's always been reliable for me. One of the nicest features is it transcribes your calls. Press 4 during a call to record -super handy. Accurate enough that if I'm in a meeting I can figure things out. I'd say turn off your wi-fi and give it a go in different locations and see if it works for you. Cheers!
User avatar
4nursebee
Posts: 1589
Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2012 7:56 am
Location: US

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by 4nursebee »

From a landline, can others call your google hangouts phone number?

We really do not have a cell phone and keep our landline. If landlines can call the google hangout number via whatever wifi network it is on, I could get rid of our landline.

As it is with google voice, we need to have some real phone service (land or cell) to forward a call to, it wont work otherwise.
Pale Blue Dot
User avatar
reriodan
Posts: 393
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:08 am

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by reriodan »

4nursebee wrote:From a landline, can others call your google hangouts phone number?

We really do not have a cell phone and keep our landline. If landlines can call the google hangout number via whatever wifi network it is on, I could get rid of our landline.

As it is with google voice, we need to have some real phone service (land or cell) to forward a call to, it wont work otherwise.
Yes, other people will have no idea it's a "hangouts" numbers.
Topic Author
mac_guy
Posts: 210
Joined: Thu Mar 12, 2015 2:37 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by mac_guy »

4nursebee wrote:From a landline, can others call your google hangouts phone number?

We really do not have a cell phone and keep our landline. If landlines can call the google hangout number via whatever wifi network it is on, I could get rid of our landline.

As it is with google voice, we need to have some real phone service (land or cell) to forward a call to, it wont work otherwise.
Yeah, it's interesting. You could be anywhere in the world and as long as you have some internet access you can make voice calls to U.S. based landline and cellphone numbers for free. Anyone can also call your assigned Google Hangouts number from a landline or cellphone and you can also receive the call anywhere in the world as long as you have internet access (also no cost to you.)
Last edited by mac_guy on Sun Aug 14, 2016 12:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Slackter
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:55 am

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Slackter »

If I have full LTE signal or a good Wifi, it's ok. Anything other than that, good luck.
Katietsu
Posts: 4077
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 1:48 am

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Katietsu »

I have not found it hangouts to be reliable for voice calls on cellular data. I usually end up .getting disconnected after a few minutes. It is better on wifi but I still do not find it as good as a google voice call, wireless call or landline.

You could ger a free number and try it out. Then port if it works for you.
spammagnet
Posts: 1161
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:42 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by spammagnet »

4nursebee wrote:... We really do not have a cell phone and keep our landline. If landlines can call the google hangout number via whatever wifi network it is on, I could get rid of our landline. ...
There are many blogs online describing porting your home phone number to Google Voice and getting a VoIP "landline" for free. You only need a device such as an Obihai 200. You'll also need to subscribe to a 911 location service which currently costs us < $20/year.

Google ports phone numbers only from mobile providers. If your home phone provider is not viewed by Google as a mobile provider, you'll need to port it to a mobile provider first, then to Google. There are blogs describing that, too. It involves a Trac phone, or the like, and doesn't sound difficult. We already had switched our landline from AT&T to a Verizon cell phone home phone device, so we could port it directly.

We did this port at the beginning of the year and are satisfied. It's definitely much cheaper. If your ISP is flaky, it may be a poor choice for you.
rolandtorres
Posts: 131
Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2016 8:44 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by rolandtorres »

Been doing this for years and on inferior coverage of T-Mobile's network and on an Android (which may be inferior to the iOS app if you can believe it). By now, it works great on wifi albeit with slight initial delay in establishing a connection. I end up taking a good number of calls on my laptop instead of phone. If you expect 100% flawless service on your data plan, youre expecting too much but if you can deal with some hiccups or use your "real" VZW minutes in emergencies you are set.

There is ongoing anxiety that Google will end Voice support since they've likely moved the engineers to their Fi wireless service and curtail Hangouts development since they announced their Allo and Duo messaging apps this spring. I suppose you can just up your VZW plan minutes if this happens and youd likely keep other benefits of Voice in the meantime.
Whakamole
Posts: 1210
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2016 9:59 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Whakamole »

I have had terrible luck with Google Voice, both using the cell network and wifi (at work and at home.) I get frequent hang-ups (about every 5 minutes with a call last week) and that is if the calls go through. It's a reason I won't go to Google Fi since it is my understanding that it uses Hangouts as the backbone of their voice solution.
travellight
Posts: 2871
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 5:52 pm
Location: San Diego

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by travellight »

I gave up my landline after I found this and love it. I love the transcription service.
364
User avatar
Tamarind
Posts: 2243
Joined: Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:38 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Tamarind »

OP, my parents did exactly what you are proposing, including dropping a grandfathered Verizon plan for work phone (mom) and 5 min/month emergency cell (dad).

It works great for them 95% of the time. There's no catch. They still have a landline because cell reception is poor where they live. But I can call their Google Voice numbers and reach them on cell, landline, or computer according to what device they happen to be around at the time.

However there are some glitches or outages very occasionally. Sometimes their calls don't connect, or their phones don't ring when I call. This is pretty rare, and calling back usually solved it. Just once it went out for 2 days, though, and Google offers no customer support for service glitches.

I would do it myself if I had multiple numbers and/or didn't use a cellular data plan. However I wouldn't consider it adequate for emergency use.
User avatar
4nursebee
Posts: 1589
Joined: Sun Apr 01, 2012 7:56 am
Location: US

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by 4nursebee »

So, I just downloaded the google hangouts app onto the ipad. Called it from our main phone, there was a bit of a delay, perhaps tolerable.
We could save $35 a month but would have to figure out a 911 equivalent.
Pale Blue Dot
Jeff Albertson
Posts: 841
Joined: Sat Apr 06, 2013 7:11 pm
Location: Springfield

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Jeff Albertson »

User avatar
reriodan
Posts: 393
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:08 am

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by reriodan »

4nursebee wrote:So, I just downloaded the google hangouts app onto the ipad. Called it from our main phone, there was a bit of a delay, perhaps tolerable.
We could save $35 a month but would have to figure out a 911 equivalent.
If I were you I would get an obihai, as mentioned earlier in the thread. You can hook it up to your phone line and use your existing landline phones and everything will operate without you noticing a difference. You will be able to make unlimited calls to north america for free and you can pay a small fee for an e-911 service. The obihai has everything so the setup is fairly easy even for people who are not technologically inclined (I believe). I have setup two of these for my parents and haven't heard of any complaints.

Instead of the obihai you could also get an Ooma, which is pretty much the same thing. I haven't used this one myself though.
noco-hawkeye
Posts: 439
Joined: Sat Aug 16, 2014 8:20 am

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by noco-hawkeye »

We have had good luck with google voice + obihai. +1 to this idea
spammagnet
Posts: 1161
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:42 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by spammagnet »

reriodan wrote:If I were you I would get an obihai, as mentioned earlier in the thread
The default provider associated with Obihai is Anveo. That gets you 911 location service for $15/registration and it gets you a disconnect alert in email. It does not get caller ID with name, which Google does not support directly.

Instead of, or in addition to, Anveo, consider Callcentric. With their free phone number you get caller ID with name. They'll want you to also pay for 911 but you can bypass that by claiming to be registering from outside the U.S. You need only one 911 location service.

Details on these topics are available in a number of blogs and VoIP user fora.
alpha423df
Posts: 110
Joined: Thu May 26, 2016 11:23 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by alpha423df »

I have multiple mobile phone numbers. Have consolidated those and only use google hangouts for calls and text messages for a while now.

Make sure to not turn off background data for google hangouts, otherwise incoming calls/texts wont come through.

Data usage is ~ 1mb/min
5sy5
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Aug 28, 2015 2:46 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by 5sy5 »

I've been using Google Voice for years. Google later released Hangout and allow me to receive and make phone calls with my GV number. I found it to be reliable over good WiFi, not so much over cellular data.

Depends on the time of day, my GV number forward calls to my cell phone, work phone, and any devices with Hangout running, so it is the only number I give out. One feature I haven't seen mentioned is spam blocking. Known spam numbers are blocked by Google and you can easily block any additional caller ID from GV web site.
inbox788
Posts: 7729
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:24 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by inbox788 »

In my experience, it works about well as a cell phone, meaning it depends on who, how and where you use it. You almost have to just try it and see if it works for you. For me, it's worked fairly well overall, but I still don't use it as my primary line, just an extra line. But I've been using Google Voice as my primary number. Now, it used to be Hangouts and Google Voice were different products, but I think they're merging, or at least being more integrated, so some folks may wonder about the difference. You'd have to go into the specific functionality of Google Talk, Obihai, Hangouts VOIP, etc. to realize they're the same but different. Also, does Android still have Hangouts Dialer app? I was using the iOS version and it was just built in to the Hangouts app, so was confused why they implemented it differently on Android or whether it was just a stopgap measure.

Things change, but for now, I'd be satisfied with the functionality if that is all I had, especially if you're replacing a landland over high speed internet. Going over WiFI adds it's complications. And trying to replace cell minutes with data only network is even less reliable and more variable. So try it and see how it works for you.

One guy I knew used the t-mobile plan that way, but no longer does. I think it was 100 voice min and 5GB data, so he made all his calls via data. I don't think it was quality that made him change, but a more suitable plan.
FreddieG
Posts: 157
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by FreddieG »

Google just announced Duo, which is a more friendly version of Hangouts.



http://www.theverge.com/2016/8/16/12474 ... app-launch
User avatar
wander
Posts: 3342
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:10 am

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by wander »

Google will shut down Hangsout some time in 2021.
Katietsu
Posts: 4077
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 1:48 am

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Katietsu »

wander wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 9:52 pm Google will shut down Hangsout some time in 2021.
So what next? Duo? I have not used it but I thought it was more of a video conferencing/FaceTime alternative. I use hangouts to both make calls and send texts with the ioS app and a Google voice number.
User avatar
wander
Posts: 3342
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:10 am

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by wander »

Katietsu wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 10:11 pm
wander wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 9:52 pm Google will shut down Hangsout some time in 2021.
So what next? Duo? I have not used it but I thought it was more of a video conferencing/FaceTime alternative. I use hangouts to both make calls and send texts with the ioS app and a Google voice number.
You can continue using Google Voice App. It works like Hangsout.
User avatar
AerialWombat
Posts: 1852
Joined: Tue May 29, 2018 1:07 pm
Location: Cash Canyon / Cashville

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by AerialWombat »

wander wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 11:10 pm
Katietsu wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 10:11 pm
wander wrote: Wed Nov 11, 2020 9:52 pm Google will shut down Hangsout some time in 2021.
So what next? Duo? I have not used it but I thought it was more of a video conferencing/FaceTime alternative. I use hangouts to both make calls and send texts with the ioS app and a Google voice number.
You can continue using Google Voice App. It works like Hangsout.
I have used Google Voice as my only phone service since before Google bought it (Grand Central). It works great, and will continue to do so post-Hangouts tie-in.
Sprucebark
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 9:22 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Sprucebark »

I use hangouts nearly every day for work. It sucks. I hate it. It lags, it is choppy, and just generally an awful product. The chat feature is fine.

Google Meet is pretty good.

Skype is also good.
Katietsu
Posts: 4077
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 1:48 am

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Katietsu »

Sprucebark wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:22 am I use hangouts nearly every day for work. It sucks. I hate it. It lags, it is choppy, and just generally an awful product. The chat feature is fine.

Google Meet is pretty good.

Skype is also good.
Sorry you have had a bad experience. I have no issues at all normally. Can not tell the difference between a hangouts call and a normal call on my iphone with my home wifi. I wonder if the difference is the platform, device or internet connection. I do have more inconsistent results with LTE or a workplace internet connection.
User avatar
JoMoney
Posts: 9844
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:31 am

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by JoMoney »

I've had no issues with hangouts, but considering the initial post of this thread, it's worth pointing out that Google has split "Hangouts" and "Google Voice" into different products whereas in the past they were trying to integrate them.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/10/15/215 ... aging-free
"To achieve satisfactory investment results is easier than most people realize; to achieve superior results is harder than it looks." - Benjamin Graham
inbox788
Posts: 7729
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:24 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by inbox788 »

JoMoney wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 9:24 am I've had no issues with hangouts, but considering the initial post of this thread, it's worth pointing out that Google has split "Hangouts" and "Google Voice" into different products whereas in the past they were trying to integrate them.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/10/15/215 ... aging-free
Either way, I think they want to get rid of one. First by uniting them, but it was probably more complicated than they expected. Now that they've separated them, looks like Hangouts is on the chopping block.

As Google sunsets Hangouts, here’s how Chat, Voice and Fi will fare
https://www.slashgear.com/as-google-sun ... -15642824/

Moving from Hangouts to Chat seems like a throwback to Google Talk.
User avatar
cockersx3
Posts: 303
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2016 3:55 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by cockersx3 »

My wife used Google Voice when teaching from home during the pandemic. She wanted a way for parents to reach her, but did not want to share our personal number with the public (there are some weird people out there). So, we found an old Android handset and set it up with Google Voice over our home WiFi. It worked well - parents could not tell the difference between a Voice call and a normal call. (And it was free!)
Sprucebark
Posts: 28
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2020 9:22 pm

Re: Is Google Hangouts reliable replacement for voice phone calling?

Post by Sprucebark »

Katietsu wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:14 am
Sprucebark wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:22 am I use hangouts nearly every day for work. It sucks. I hate it. It lags, it is choppy, and just generally an awful product. The chat feature is fine.

Google Meet is pretty good.

Skype is also good.
Sorry you have had a bad experience. I have no issues at all normally. Can not tell the difference between a hangouts call and a normal call on my iphone with my home wifi. I wonder if the difference is the platform, device or internet connection. I do have more inconsistent results with LTE or a workplace internet connection.
Using it for video calls mostly. Horrible. Voice calls are usually ok.

Try doing a video call or a screen share and you will wonder if they intentionally made it horrible. I’ve been suffering with it at work for 3 years- using it nearly every day. I just thought google was bad at video calls until we used google meet and it worked great. I never understood why they would put out a product that didn’t work. Guess that is why they are shutting it down. Good riddance!!
Post Reply