Residents in the United Kingdom can now make free voice calls using the Google Home and Home Mini smart speakers. As explained by The Guardian, U.K. residents can make calls over Wi-Fi by saying, “Hey, Google, call [contact name].” The Home smart speakers are capable of calling anyone listed in the user’s Google Contacts. However, they can also call businesses listed in Google’s online directory.
Google first announced the Home smart speakers’ calling feature back in 2017 during its annual I/O developer conference. This was a huge selling point for the speakers as the Mountain View company touted the benefits of hands-free calling. If you’re busy cooking in the kitchen, for instance, you probably don’t want to touch your smartphone. Using the Home or Home Mini, you can easily place calls using your voice. And with the latest update, all calls made in the United Kingdom are now free.
This feature isn’t limited strictly to U.K. residents. Last year, Google introduced free calling for Home users in the United States and Canada. Amazon’s smart speaker, the Echo, supports free calling as well. Unlike the Home and Home Mini, though, it requires a mobile phone number.
In addition to free calling, the Home and Home Mini are capable of distinguishing between different users’ voices. In other words, telling the speaker to “call mom” will perform two different actions when performed by different users. The Home and Home Mini use Google Assistant to recognize up to six distinct voices.
Originally launched November 4, 2016, the Google Home has become one of the top-selling smart speakers on the market. The voice-activated device can play streaming music, provide updates on news, automate lighting systems in the home and more. With Google rolling out free calling for users in the United Kingdom, the Home is now more powerful than ever.