On Wednesday, Google announced that it will start rolling out hands-free calling to its smart speaker for U.S. and Canada customers. In May, Google announced that such a feature would be coming to the smart speaker.
Google Home calling for U.S. and Canada
Just a few days ago, there was a video of a Google Home owner making free voice calls on the smart speaker. It seems like the lucky user got the hands-on experience before anyone else could, as starting Wednesday, the feature is rolling out to Google Home users in Canada and the U.S. Although Google Home is available in France, Germany, the U.K. and Australia, the hands-free calling feature is yet to be rolled out in those markets.
Google has kept it simple with no special setup required for voice calling. The Google Home calling feature will simply use the user’s personal contacts or businesses located close to the user to place calls. To place a call, a user just needs to say “OK, Google, call [contact name].” For instance, to call the nearest coffee shop, a user would command the smart speaker, “OK, Google, call the nearest coffee shop.”
For now, it seems making calls to nearby businesses is simpler than calling contacts, as the latter requires a set-up process, and those on iOS may find it to be a little complicated, according to SearchEngineLand. It is not yet clear whether the user will have to search for subcategories and then make a call or where there will not be any need for a second search.
How it’s better than others
Amazon Alexa devices can call users with the Alexa smartphone app installed or call another Alexa device. Microsoft Cortana also offers calling capabilities through Skype, but the Google Home calling feature is broader and perhaps better because it does not restrict reach, like by restricting it only to users with an Alexa device or the Alexa app installed.
Additionally, all the calls are made over Wi-Fi, so they are not related to smartphones. Multiple users can use the Google Home voice calling feature as well. The device will work on a voice recognition basis; therefore, once the smart speaker recognizes the user’s voice, a call can be made. The feature will come in handy for roommates who live together. There are also personalization features, such as the right calendar appointments, the best route to commute to work and the right Spotify playlist.
Some drawbacks for now
Initially, when making a call to someone via Google Home, the user’s number will display as “Unknown caller.” This could be a limitation, as many people refrain from answering an unknown call. However, users who have access to Google Fi can have their name appear, and according to Google, the feature will eventually be made available to all, notes CNBC.
All numbers the user wants their Google Home speaker to connect to should be saved in their Google contacts. However, if someone is using any other app, the contacts need to be saved in the Google cloud.
Users who are curious enough to check whether the Google Home voice calling feature has been activated just need to check the “Devices” section in the Google Home app and look for the blue bar prompting for setup.