This isn’t advertised anywhere on the Google Home product spec or box, but you can get free calls using your Google Home, if you live in the United States, Canada, or United Kingdom.
This feature has been available for a while in the US and Canada, but it has just been announced for Google Home owners in the UK. If you’re not in one of these three countries – don’t worry, it looks like Google is slowly rolling out country by country, judging by the UK launch.
To get started, you can check out this official help page from Google.
For those that don’t live in one of the supported countries but want to try it out, I wouldn’t be surprised if it could work if you change your Google Home language to one of the three countries, and use a router-level VPN to pretend to be in the US, Canada, or UK.
However, before you go off and make expensive international calls, unfortunately it looks like the free calls are only to local numbers. I also tried to call US numbers from my Google Home located here in the UK, and it wouldn’t let me.
To call, you can give commands such as:
“Call John Smith” (if the contact exists in your Google Contacts)
“Call Buckingham Palace” (Google will then use the phone number it can find in Google Maps)
You can also use calls as an extension of your voice search for local businesses, for example:
“Where is the nearest barbershop?” > “call them”
Or if you prefer the old fashioned way, just say the number you want to call out loud:
“Call 020 7898 3432”
One interesting this is the ability to change the caller ID that the person/recipient of the call you are making will see on their phone. By default, it will be as “unlisted number”, but in your Google Home app settings, you can specify to change to your own phone number. This is pretty cool – if you get to someone’s voicemail, they have your number to ring you back!
One final thing – Google does state that if you have a Google Voice account, you can make international calls – but they will be charged at their usual rates and come out of your Google Voice call credit. However, when I tried to call Balthazar in New York, my Google Home didn’t even give me the option of using Google Voice, even though I do have an account. Google Voice is really only available in the US at the moment (I think) and I was lucky to get it set up on a trip when I was there a few years back.