July 10, 2013
The technology giant has released an update, which will roll out over the course of the week, that allows users to hold conversations with as many as 10 people at once via Gmail, Google+ and Chrome. As an added bonus, calls to the U.S. and Canada are now free from all countries where Hangouts calling is available.
“Today’s launch also improves the desktop calling experience in a number of ways,” senior software engineer Alex Wiesen said in a blog post.
“For example: you can add multiple phone numbers and video participants to the same call; and you can play sound effects (like applause or laughter) with the Google Effects app.”
Google did a major overhaul of Hangouts in May to combine text, photos and live video across Android, iOS and PCs. The update removed the ability to bring outbound Google Voice calls to Hangouts, meaning only inbound calls for users with Google Voice numbers were supported. The company, at the time, pledged to remedy the outbound calls issue as quickly as possible.
“Hangouts is designed to be the future of Google Voice, and making and receiving calls is just the beginning,” Wiesen said. “So stay tuned for future updates.”