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Google Home is killing free voice calls in the UK — what you need to know

google nest audio
(Image credit: Future)

Did you know that your Google Assistant can make calls from one U.K. number to another? It’s not the kind of feature that’s been well advertised, but it is there. Well it’s there for now.

Unfortunately it’s not going to be around for much longer, because Google is scrapping that feature in the U.K. So no free phone calls from Google Assistant displays and speakers for you.

The feature lets users in the U.K. make free calls to other U.K. numbers, which can be quite handy since you can initiate everything through the speaker (or smart display) using your voice. The best part was that if you didn’t want to use your own number, Google would pair an unlisted number to your device and call from that instead.

Unfortunately, for reasons Google hasn’t properly explained, this feature is disappearing from mid-December. Or at least it is in the U.K., since the feature will still be available in the U.S. and Canada. Here’s what it says in the Nest help pages:

*Important: Starting in mid-December 2020, if you're in the U.K., you won't be able to make Google supported calls on your speaker or display. You'll still be able to make audio or video calls through Duo.”

Fortunately the U.K. isn’t being completely deprived of smart speaker calls. Amazon Echo devices are all able to call other Amazon devices with Alexa, meaning you can still phone up your friends and family without needing to touch your phone. 

Similarly the Echo is capable of “Outbound Calling” which lets you call mobile and landline numbers from your smart speaker. That’s network specific, though, and you will need to be with EE or Vodafone to make that happen. It’s still free, however.

If you’re not into that, and want to stick with Google, there’s always Google Duo. Duo works with all Google Home and Nest speakers and Displays, but will only call other Duo users, not phone numbers.

If that’s not for you, you’re just going to have to pick up your phone and use one of the many messaging apps out there instead.