GOOGLE'S ALEXA rival Google Home has taken a massive leap in attempts to overtake the competition as it rolls out WiFi calling in the UK.
Google Assistant will be updated this week on Home devices to allow WiFi calling to any number in your contacts or any business in its directory. It doesn't require a landline and doesn't cost anything.
This is something of a game-changer as it opens up all UK numbers including landlines for the first time, not just calling other devices or apps.
Google can already recognise different users on Assistant, so "call mum" won't lead to any embarrassing misunderstandings. It doesn't, however, call 999 or 112, and there is a disclaimer about similar sounding voices, and recordings of your voice being used to make a fake call.
After you make your first call, you'll be invited to set up caller ID, so your assistant calls are shown as coming from your mobile instead of some mysterious withheld number. There's no facility for incoming calls, but we imagine that's fairly imminent too.
The result will be a hands-free calling service which we assume you'll be able to send through to a Bluetooth headset as you do currently with a Bluetooth speaker.
This is a massive jump for UK users who haven't had the option of Google Voice, which has offered free calls within the US for years and has no indication of an imminent launch here.
A firmware update will enable the new features and is aimed to be rolled out by Mothering Sunday, this weekend.
To support the new feature, Google is reducing the price of the Google Home Mini, usually priced at £49, to £39 until the 12th March.
It's not entirely clear how Amazon will be able to counter this. Whilst it has a much bigger ecosystem of devices to make calls between, it will struggle to keep up with an offer of an entirely free phone service in the short term at least, but it's known that both companies ultimately hope to do away with landlines. µ
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