Google's new version of Hangouts for Gmail eliminates Google Voice features. The move is frustrating heavy users, many of whom disconnected landline phones in exchange for Internet calling. The addition discontinues the ability to make voice calls to landline and mobile numbers from Gmail, although the service aims to bring all types of conversations online, across any device or platform.
The disconnect follows Google's recent rollout of Hangouts for mobile and Google+, although the change brings Google's video chat in line with Microsoft Skype. Google's Voice communication service allows users to funnel one phone number to multiple telephone lines, such as their home, work and cellphones. They also can start a Hangout on their phone and pick it up in Gmail where they left off.
Gmail users have the option to switch from their current version of chat to Hangouts. The chat window will show the profile photos in the order of the most recent conversations. Hangouts not only allow users to trade emails and send photos, but also video calls with up to 15 people simultaneously.
Today's version of Hangouts doesn't support outbound calls on the Web and in the Chrome extension. Nor does it support Google Voice on tablets. Google did design Hangouts to become the future of Google Voice, so making and receiving phone calls becomes the first step in a long list of features, Nikhyl Singhal, Google's director of product management for real-time communications, confirmed in a Google+ post.
Future versions will better integrate Google Voice, Singhal wrote. The new service still supports inbound calls to Google Voice numbers. He explains that Google continues to work to support both outbound and inbound calls, and for now, suggests using Google Talk in Gmail.