Google Hangouts is Google's messenger app, that is capable of video calls, vidoeconferencing, SMS, phone calls and other cool stuff.
Google Hangouts is Google's "primary" messenging app, having replaced several previous apps ( and gaining their capabilities ). Some of the neat things you can do with it are:
- Video calling with one or multiple folks
- Instant messenging with other Googlers. Transscripts are saved in your Gmail.
- Google Voice integration
- Call any phone in the USA or Canada - free ( requires Hangouts Dialer )
- Send & receive SMS messages
- Hangouts is accessible through the Gmail interface ( no need for an app )
I do not do much "social network" stuff, but I do enjoy saving money. You can set up your Google Voice account to ring your Hangouts app when someone dials your Google Voice phone number, giving you a free VoIP phone service. You can also set up your Hangouts app to show your GV number to the recipient's caller ID when you make calls.
When set up this way, you will now have worldwide phone service ( wherever you have WiFi or a data connection, anyway ) at no extra cost for a "roaming SIM" or "international roaming" plans from your cellular provider.
The Google Voice + Google Hangouts combination may also give you more talk time when using Freedompop, as Freedompop is an all data service and their VoIP dialer is not known for its low data usage ( if it were efficient, they'd not be able to tease you into buying more of their service, right? ).
Bluntly, if you just need a dedicated phone for 'round the office or home use, and have a WiFi connection, you can get a cheap cell phone and save money on these highly marketed "VoIP Phone Service" providers. As this is "software only" solution, for this purpose there's no need to worry about the network, so long as it runs Android and is new enough for your tastes.
Using this link to purchase from Amazon helps support this blog & other Novarata services. Thanks!