Google Home Mini is the Google equivalent of the Amazon Echo Dot – a puck-sized voice assistant that costs less than £50. That could be money very well spent if you make good use of its latest killer feature: free calls to UK landlines and mobiles.
To be clear, this isn’t routing calls via your home landline or your mobile phone. The Google Home Mini makes calls by itself, although you can enter your mobile number and have that used as the caller ID.
It’s all completely free and unlimited. It’s a brilliant feature, especially if you don’t already have unlimited calls on your phone or – like me – you have awful mobile reception and home and want an easier way to make calls. Here’s how to set up free calls on the Google Home Mini or its bigger brother, the Google Home.
How to make free calls to landlines and mobiles from a Google Home Mini
Placing a call really is as simple as saying “OK Google, call Phil Davies,” or whoever you want to call.
Assuming you’ve already installed the Google Home app on your smartphone, or you have an Android smartphone in the first place, Google likely already has access to your phone contacts. Have home, office and mobile numbers stored for a contact? No problem: it will ask which you want to call.
It’s worth pointing out that if you’ve set up multiple users on the Google Home Mini, Google will be able to distinguish your voice from that of your partner’s. So if you say “call mum”, there’s no risk of you ending up in a cosy chat with your mother-in-law.
You can also ask Google to call businesses by name. For example, saying “call the Shapla restaurant in Burgess Hill” puts me through to my local curry house. Ask Google “where’s the nearest pizza restaurant” and, after it returns the result, you can say “call them” to book a table. Alternatively, dictate the number you want it to dial by saying “call 01473 121212”.
To end a call, you can hold either side of the Google Home Mini or tap the top of the Google Home. You can also say “OK Google, stop/hang up” although that’s a wee bit awkward with the other person still on the line. It’s usually easier to wait for them to hang up.
How to set up caller ID on the Google Home Mini
If you don’t set up caller ID, “private number” pops up on the other person’s phone. You might be happy operating under such anonymity, but many people reject or even block calls from those withholding their number.
To have Google display your mobile number when you make calls, so that the recipient knows it’s you, requires a little fiddling in the settings. Open the Google Home app, press the Menu button and choose More Settings. Scroll down to Calls on Speakers and you should see an option to link your mobile phone number. To do this, Google will send a verification code by SMS that you then need to enter.
Once you’ve done that, the job’s a good ‘un and you can start placing calls!
Now read this: can I use an Amazon Echo as a computer speaker?
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