Google has launched another challenge for UK telecom providers with the news that its Home and Home Mini smart speakers can now place free telephone calls to UK numbers.
The feature has been available in the United States since August, but now people can utilise Google Assistant found the Home smart speaker to place calls hands free, to any UK landline and mobile phone.
The development comes as Google announced in January this year that it was planning to roll out its voice-activated personal assistant to as many devices as possible during 2018 – including vehicles and smart screens.
Google has said that this week it will update its Google Assistant on Home devices to allow Wi-Fi calling to any number in your contacts or any business in its directory.
It should be noted that this will not need a landline to work, and will be completely free of charge.
The user will thus be able to stand within range of the Google Home speaker, and say “hey Google, call” or “OK Google, call” followed by the name of the person they want to call.
Google Assistant will then search through your Google Contacts address book, and the call will be placed over Wi-Fi to either mobile or landline numbers.
With the first call, the person making the call will show up as an unknown or private number to the person on the other end. However after that, you can set up caller ID so people know who is calling.
Another important item to note is that it will not work for people wanting to dial 999 or 112.
The feature will set Google apart from its smart speaker rivals.
While Amazon’s Alexa on the Echo speaker for example have supported voice calling for months now, it can only be done via the web to an app on a smartphone, and not to regular landline or mobile phone numbers in the UK.
Apple’s HomePod meanwhile can act as a hands-free speaker for a person’s iPhone, but cannot place voice calls on its own.
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