Saturday, July 18, 2015
Free Phone Calls
Talking on the phone used to be terribly expensive for long distance calls. Costs have certainly come down. Most of us can make unlimited free nationwide calls for a small monthly fee. But making a completely free call has been difficult to do.
There are many options for free voice communications, such as MS Skype or Apple Facetime. But to make those work, you need to have the other party using the same program and be online ready to receive the call. That is great for some people, but there are a great many who don't want to be bothered setting up a new app or sitting by their computer waiting for a call. There are also many people I don't know very well that I need to call. They may use Skype, but I don't want to go through the bother of figuring all that out just for a quick call.
For this reason, I am a big fan of Google Voice. Like Skype or Facetime, you can make computer to computer calls for video or audio chats, as well as instant messaging. But there is also a dialer component. You can call anyone on any phone by simply dialing their phone number and talking. To the person being called, it is just like any other phone call.
The service is 100% free, at least for US and Canada calls. For other countries, you may have to pay, although the rates are pretty good.
To set this up, you simply need a free Google account and use the free Google Chrome Web Browser. Add the Hangouts App from the Chrome Web Store. Dial a number and start have a phone call. Of course, you will need a computer with microphone and speakers. I prefer a USB headset myself for better quality.
Even better, if you have limited minutes on your phone, you can use the Hangouts App on your phone to make calls on the phone. I have an old Android phone without any service on it at all. I connect it to a Wifi connection and can make and receive calls (you can get a free phone number with your Google account). I did my tests with Android, but Hangouts is available for iPhone as well. Tablets of virtually any variety will also work fine.
Google Voice has many other benefits as well. I can forward calls from my Google Voice to another number, or multiple numbers. This means I can receive calls many different locations. Google will also convert any voicemail messages to text and email the full message to me.