Recent updates to the Google Hangouts app and a newly introduced Google Hangouts Dialer app makes it possible to turn an Android tablet like the Google Nexus 7 into a phone. This works over Wi-Fi or on LTE versions of the tablet. Using Google Hangouts and the new Hangouts Dialer app on a Nexus 7 could potentially save hundreds of dollars a year by letting owners cancel their cell phone service. Even if a user must pay an early termination fee to cancel their subscription before their two-year contract ends, the monthly savings will cover that cost within a few months.
This guide shows users how to ditch their expensive cell phone service by turning a Google Nexus 7 into a phone. Any tablet will work so long as the owner can get on the Internet either via Wi-Fi or LTE. So, owners of the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 2014 Edition, or either of Dell’s Venue 7 or Venue 8 tablets could take advantage of this service to dump AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile or whichever cell company they use.
Hardware Needed to Make Calls with Hangouts Dialer
First, users need a good a tablet. Grab a nice tablet like the Google Nexus 7. It’s small, light and runs great. Some of us can even slide it into a pocket to carry it around unobtrusively.
Second, get a good Bluetooth headset or decent set of earbuds or headphones with a mic built-in. Without this, everyone will hear all of the your calls, resulting in no privacy and annoying people nearby.
Grab the Hangouts and Hangouts Dialer Apps
The Nexus 7 comes with Google Hangouts installed by default. The app lets users send and receive messages to other Hangouts users. It also can take over the instant messaging function on smartphones. Users can chat live via text and even chat over video with friends, family or colleagues.
The Hangouts Dialer app adds phone functions to the Google Hangouts app. With the dialer app installed, a new tab shows up in Hangouts that looks like a tiny phone number pad on the right side of the top row in the Hangouts app.
Finally, before moving on, make sure that your Google account has Google Voice set up. Go to voice.google.com and follow the on-screen instructions for setting up a new number, if it’s not already.
Make a Hangouts Dialer Phone Call
To make a call, do one of a few things after opening the Hangouts app. At the top notice the three buttons. The first on the left shows a list of contacts. Either search for the contact by typing their name, or scroll down the list. Tap the contact to open a chat sessions with that contact.
In the upper right corner of the chat session, notice three icons. The left icon starts a video hangout. The middle icon starts a phone call and right menu icon opens the drop down menu list. Use one of the first two for either a video or audio conversation.
Since we’re using the Nexus 7 as a phone, we’ll focus on the second item, which starts a phone call using a Google Voice account. Tap on the phone icon and it starts the call screen and dials the number of the contact. Once the person answers the call, begin speaking as if on a phone.
Users can also start a call by tapping the phone number pad icon on the right side at the top of the Hangouts app when opening Google Hangouts. Again, search for a contact in the search box at the top or tap the contact name of a recent conversation listed. The recent call list is empty the first time a user opens the Hangouts app after installing the dialer app.
To call someone who’s not already in the contacts list or the recent call list, tap the number pad icon at the bottom of the screen and dial the number manually. Hit the big phone icon below the number pad to make the call. Start talking once the recipient answers.