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Hangouts adds deeper Google Voice integration and free voice calling

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Google Voice and Hangouts are finally moving closer together, Google announced today, confirming observations made by Android Police yesterday. Google Voice users will now see their voicemail transcriptions and text messages show up alongside their usual list of Hangouts conversations. You can also reply via SMS with your Google Voice account inside Hangouts. (iOS users will need to wait a bit for both of these features, as they're only on the web and Android to start.) So while the services haven't fully merged, they're working much better together starting today. Everything's rolling out over the coming days, so don't be concerned if you're missing any of this functionality right this second.

Even better, Hangouts now offers free voice calls so long as you're calling a number in the US or Canada; calls to other Hangouts users are always free regardless of location. Google Voice isn't even necessary for the free VoIP services, according to TechCrunch. To get calls working on Android, you'll first need to download a standalone Hangouts Dialer app — which activates the feature and serves as a shortcut to placing voice calls. That's available here. Not everything's perfect, though; some people are reporting problems — broken Voice extensions in Chrome, etc. — coming with today's updates as the two services converge.

Chris Welch contributed to this article.