The Google+ team continues to graduate features from its sandbox into prime time for its Hangouts product. Last week, the company announced the addition of Google Docs into Hangouts, and today the service has officially added the ability to make phone calls from within a Hangout as well.
In what is becoming the most fully-featured, and free, video conferencing option on the web, Google+ just got more useful by being able to add an outside caller to the discussion. Unfortunately, you can’t create a party line and this feature is limited to making one call at a time.
In the past few months, we’ve graduated two widely-used features from Hangouts with extras to the main Hangouts experience: screensharing and Google Docs. Today, we’re excited to announce that we’re graduating a third and very popular feature — the ability to call a phone number from Hangouts. Calls to the US and Canada are free, and international calling rates are super, super low (www.goo.gl/TWv2L)
To dial in someone:
– When you’re in a hangout, click on the “Invite” button and then on the “+telephone” link.
– Enter the number you want to dial, and hit “Add.” (Note: You can only call one number at a time. Dialing a second phone number will replace the existing call.)
What’s interesting is that the company never refers to the underlying technology or product of the feature, Google Voice, which shows that Google is making an effort to streamline its offerings as not to confuse its users.
This is another feature that seems pretty focused on business purposes, becoming extremely useful for teams spread out in different locations, but there is a social application for it, especially when you and your Hangout need to ask a friend a question.