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Krister's Blog
krister at hallergard dot com

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Hangouts killing SMS
Addendum 2017-08-04
Three years ago Google merged Hangouts and Google Voice, which made it possible to send SMS from Hangouts and to have the conversation history of text messages (IM) and SMS in one place. The last few months Google has "unmerged" Hangouts and Google Voice, as part of a further restructuring of Hangouts. This changes everything mentioned below as far as SMS on Hangouts is concerned.

How can I now send SMS from my WiFi only tablet (Galaxy TAB S2) without SIM-card? Google Voice can still send free SMS as before to North America only, but can receive SMS from anywhere. Android Messages can be sideloaded, but won't run - probably looking for SMS folders etc.

Previous version: 2015-03-31
Newer version

Making Mobile Calls without having a SIM-card - Hangouts

In 2014 Google merged Hangouts (video calls incl. conference calls and IM - instant messaging - using internet, VoIP Voice-over-Internet-Protocol) with Google Voice (GV) (telephone calls and SMS messaging - using the mobile networks, GSM/LTE, and thus requiring a SIM-card in the mobile phone). An important advantage is that text messages, IM and SMS, now end up in the same conversation history, which can be reached on all your devices using your Google+ account.
View Video 1st Part 4 min     View Video 2nd Part 3 min

Though the main feature of Hangouts probably is the free video calls, what follows is mainly about with how the functions of the previous GV work with the merged Hangouts. It is mainly about making phone calls and SMS messages without having a SIM-card, which is the case with my Nexus 9 Tablet: To start I got myself a free Google Voice Number and then sideloaded the Google Voice app to the tablet. This is how it works on my Tablet, but the functionality is very similar on my Desktop PC - Windows and Linux, which don't have a SIM-card either:

Initially the Conversations screen shows contacts I have invited to my Google+, with whom I have made video calls or sent IM:s, and contacts with whom I have had SMS communications.

On the top of the Conversations screen there are icons, to the left for opening (my Google+ and Gmail) Contacts and to the right for opening the Dialer. I can use either to start a telephone call. If I choose a Google+ contact it will start a free VoIP call and for others it will start a data call and there will be a charge outside North America.

If I want to send an SMS message I have to start it from the Dialer, unless I have previously sent SMS to this contact, in which case I can start the SMS in Conversations.

When a Google+ contact sends me an SMS, there is the blue option to choose SMS instead of IM. There are also icons at the top for starting a video call or a phone call.


SMS contact only
My 12 years old dumbphone

Google+ &
SMS contact

Here there are some price comparisions for phone calls and SMS messages to land lines and to mobile phones:

For updated prices see here!

SMS with Google Voice instead of Hangouts

Unfortunately I am not able to use Hangouts to send SMS to recipients outside North America, I can only send IM to my Google+ contacts. I wish Google could lift this restriction against sending SMS to contacts outside North America!

I can receive calls to my GV number from anywhere, on the Desktop PC or on the Tablet, through Google+/Hangouts. The audio quality is very good, though there is a slight time lag (about half a second only and no echo).