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Alternative to Google Hangouts

Just read another post regarding Hangouts being phased out this year. I have been using Hangouts on my iPhone and like it. I would appreciate any suggestions as to alternatives?

Thank you.

Posted by
1493 posts

Hello Just Travel,

What's App is very popular.

Both parties need to join - added to your contacts. Works very well.

You are able to text, talk and video talk like face time.

Also there is Skype. Both parties need to have a free Skype account. You can type a message, you can talk on mic, and you can video talk too if you have your camera setup.

with the WhatsApp and Skype, you can call across the world for free.

Posted by
486 posts

Thanks, Girasole. I actually have both WhatsApp and Skype. Family/friends I need to call do not have neither app. Mom is 89, so simple calling is best. WhatsApp has not been popular with my circle; but I used to use Skype, paying their low rates.

Just wondering if there is a replacement for Hangouts where I am the only one who needs to download the app and call anyone in the US for free.

Posted by
4504 posts

Just wondering if there is a replacement for Hangouts where I am the only one who needs to download the app and call anyone in the US for free.

You’ll want to download “Google Voice”

Hope this helps!

Posted by
1493 posts

Hi Just,

Sweet - your Mom is 89 🙂

Google seems to be phasing out a lot of their apps.

I read what you wrote about WhatsApp and Skype. These are the only two that I can think of right now.

Perhaps someone else will see this thread and offer some other suggestions.

Update - edited out some non relevant information.

Posted by
3980 posts

I used Skype this year when we were traveling to keep in touch with my 91 year old dad. It was $2-something a month for unlimited calling to any number - including landlines and cell phones - in the US. The only disappointing thing for me was, even though I paid extra for an identifying phone number, whoever called me could not leave a voice message. If my tablet was on when someone called, it would show me the number I had missed a call from, but that's all.

But for what I needed, it worked well.

Posted by
4686 posts

The Google Voice app has been enhanced in the last year or so to add functionality missing previously, to replace some of Hangouts' functionality. Now you can make calls over WiFi (or with mobile data) in Google Voice, something you couldn't do two years ago. In the US you can receive calls in Voice too with WiFi or mobile data. But it's not quite the same as Hangouts.

I used Google Voice in May to call the US for free - worked fine. Unfortunately, I could not get incoming calls to work (they work in the US). It's possible they don't work outside the US...or I just didn't spend much time trying to make it work.

Posted by
4686 posts

We taught my 80 year old MIL to use What's App. You could use Viber. Skype. I don't think Google Voice works outside the US.

As I said above, I used Google Voice in Italy in May to call the US from my cell phone - to landlines. The Google Voice app has been enhanced to add VOIP calling features it didn't have in the past.

WhatApp is fine if the other person has it too. If not, Google Voice will let you call any phone in the US for free from overseas as long as you have their phone number.

Posted by
291 posts

Google definitely likes doing stuff like that - not ditching services entirely, so much as rebranding and repurposing existing apps and moving the functionality from one to another. So you should still be able to do most everything ya did with Hangouts on Google Voice. Google will also be releasing new apps to replace Hangouts - Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet - to try and make it more of a group/enterprise solution.

But yeah... it does get hard keeping up with Google's apps sometimes!

On top of WhatsApp and Skype, Telegram is a pretty good app. It is primarily a messaging app, but also allows for things like group chats, broadcast channels, and voice calling (encrypted, over wifi). I use it all the time and am a fan, and prefer its interface to those of WhatsApp and Skype.

Posted by
4686 posts

Why Google does what they do is sometimes a mystery. It seems to involve changing strategic objectives, not trying to make things easier for the users. Hangouts worked really well for calls, even incoming calls. Supposedly, the audio quality in Google Voice VOIP calls is much better than in Hangouts (which definitely had some issues - but worked quite well for what it was).

Biggest issue I've had with the new Google Voice so far is incoming calls on your Google Voice number. With Hangouts, you could just enable incoming calls. With Voice, you have to change the setting in Voice for "Making and receiving calls" from "Use carrier Only" to "Prefer Wi-Fi and mobile data." I have a spare phone with no SIM card that I used to use as a spare incoming phone at home on WiFi. Worked great with Hangouts. Not with Voice - can't get incoming calls to work with it, while a second phone is also in use with a SIM. Plus, I may not want to use my mobile data for incoming calls - maybe just WiFi.

Perhaps this is due to Google now offering their "Google FI" phone service and they didn't want to compete with themselves? Who really knows but them - maybe they don't even know!

Posted by
486 posts

Thanks, everyone.

My next trip is in October, so I will figure out my alternatives before then.

Posted by
925 posts

Thanks to Andrew’s tutoring, I used Google Voice in Italy in May to call our home landline. It’s the only phone my husband will answer. Most of the time Google Voice worked good using WiFi but in a couple places the connection was so bad I ended up using Verizon’s $10/day international plan.

Posted by
4686 posts

That's an important point: for ANY of these apps to work - WhatsApp, Skype, Google Voice, etc. - you MUST have a decent WiFi connection or if you have a SIM card, have good mobile reception for mobile data. Otherwise, none of them will work well.

Posted by
12 posts

Last month I used Google Voice successfully to make free WiFi phone calls from Europe.

But I've never tried to receive calls using Google Voice.

To use Google Voice to make WiFi calls, you may need an updated version. The update that allows WiFi calls first became available in February 2019.

After you have the updated version, follow these steps:

-- Open the Google Voice app.

-- Tap on menu icon in top left corner.

-- Tap on: Settings

-- Scroll down to Calls section.

-- Tap on: Make and receive calls

-- There are two choices:

Use carrier only

Prefer Wi-Fi and mobile data

-- To make Wi-Fi calls, select: Prefer Wi-Fi and mobile data.

===================

When I'm traveling out of the country, I don't want my phone ringing at random times, especially when I on a group tour.

My standard practice is:

-- Tell friends & relatives when I'll be out of the country.

-- Ask them to contact me only by email during my trip. If something is urgent, leave your phone number and I'll call as soon as possible.

-- I keep my phone on Do Not Disturb during the trip which sends all phone calls immediately to voice mail.

===================

Whenever I need to make a WiFi call, I follow these steps:

-- Find a strong WiFi signal.

-- Find a quiet place to make the call (not in a noisy restaurant).

-- Stay in one place during the call. Don't move around. A WiFi signal can vary greatly just by moving a few feet. In one hotel room, I had a strong signal near the room door but sitting on the bed the signal was much weaker.

-- Wear earphones for better sound quality.