8 Issues with Google Hangouts VoIP Dialer On Android

The Google Hangouts Dialer VoIP Calling feature just released on Android recently is not quite ready for prime time. Here are big 8 issues I found using it.

It pains me to say this.  The Google Hangouts VoIP Calling feature, which was just released on Android recently, is not quite ready for prime time.  I was so excited about it when they announced Google Voice was finally merging into Hangouts.  I’ve been using it ever since.  But now, after getting a chance to use it thoroughly, I see it’s got some big issues.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love Google Hangouts and continue to use it daily for phone calls in the office, and for chatting and video calls with friends, family, and co-workers.  The only issue I have is with the Hangouts dialer on Android in contrast with the stock dialer that it’s trying to replace.

UPDATE 12/18/2014: The Hangouts Dialer updated and fixed some of these issues including the phone call intent and the ability to add callers to your contacts.

Unreliable data connection = dropped calls

Before I even started using Hangouts VoIP calling, I wondered if Google would figure out some magical technology that would allow a phone call to still stay connected even when using a poor wi-fi or data connection.  Nope.  The Hangouts dialer seems to have all of the same issues that other VoIP dialers had.

I can’t blame them.  An unreliable data connection is bound to cause unreliable calls.  But, that is a great reason to continue using cell phone minutes by calling through the carrier.  Calls are typically much more reliable, even when the data connection isn’t.

Wi-Fi / mobile data switching = dropped calls

Similarly, on a mobile phone, the event of switching between wi-fi and mobile data causes a very short period of no data at all.  Every single time I’ve been on a call using Hangouts while I’m driving to or from the office or my home, it drops the call as it switches on or off of the wi-fi.

It would be nice if either the phone or the app could handle this a bit more gracefully, having the ability to hand off the call without dropping it.

Missing phone call “intent” in Android

In Android development terminology, an “intent” is like a declaration from an app telling the phone that it can handle certain functions.  For instance, the Facebook app has many intents like “share photo” that tell the phone when I’m clicking the share button on a photo, then the Facebook app should appear in the list of apps to choose from.

Well, one of the most fundamental “intents” of a phone is the one for placing a phone call.  By default, the stock dialer has ownership of that intent, but other apps, like Skype, also have that intent, so when you install Skype, you can actually set it as the default app for placing phone calls.

I was shocked to find that the Hangouts dialer does not have this intent, and therefore, I cannot set it as the default app for placing phone calls.  If I click on a phone number from my contacts or from a website or app, I only get the options of Phone or Skype… no Hangouts.

I cannot understand why Google hasn’t implemented this pretty basic feature.

Can’t mute the ringer using volume buttons

Another feature I’ve always taken for granted was the ability to reach for the outside of my pocket and squeeze the edges of the phone to press a volume button to mute the ringer.  When my phone is ringing during a meeting, it’s much faster to do this than to pull the phone completely out of my pocket and slide left to reject the call.

Again, this is a very basic feature that many people have gotten used to, but is somehow missing from the Hangouts dialer.

Can’t click on numbers in the call log to add them contacts

The dialer interface in Hangouts on Android is obviously a first generation iteration.  There is not a lot you can do with it except the very basic task of placing or receiving a call.

I received a call from one of my clients and I realized I didn’t have that person’s phone number in my contacts, so I tried long-tapping on the phone number in the call log, and the only option available was to remove it from the call log.  There are so many other features that should be available here, especially adding the number to my contacts.

Buggy proximity sensor integration

I’ve notice a number of times when I have the phone up to my head and then pull it away to see the screen, the screen doesn’t come back on.

It makes me think the screen is turned off, so I hit the home button to wake it back up only to find out that the screen wasn’t off, and now I’m at the home screen and need to find the ongoing call in the notification panel to get back to it.  It’s pretty frustrating.

Delay in connecting to a call

The Hangouts dialer just doesn’t feel very fluid.  When I answer an incoming call, I say my typical answer greeting, and then say it again, and then say it again.  Usually by the third time, the person heard me.

Because of this I’ve started to develop a habit of answering the call and then waiting 5 seconds before saying my greeting.  This is really a poor user experience, and I hope the issue gets resolved soon.

Features that only the stock dialer has

This last one is not really Google’s fault and there probably isn’t much that they can do about it.  However, it is a legitimate reason to stick with the stock dialer and make calls through your carrier.

Being a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 user who also has the S View cover and a Samsung Gear smart watch, I’ve gotten used to some nice features that I can only get with the stock dialer.  Incoming phone calls appear both on the S View cover’s window and the watch.  I can answer or reject the call without lifting the cover and also without even taking my phone out of my pocket.

These are some proprietary features that Samsung has built that only work with Samsung’s dialer.  However, it would be nice to see some kind of workaround to enable these features on the Hangouts dialer.

Conclusion

Overall, these are too many reasons for me to ignore.  For the time being, I’m switching back to having my Google Voice number call my cell phone number, but only because I have unlimited minutes anyway.  If I was on a cheap cell phone plan that had very limited minutes, I would put up with these issues.

So, it’s really a decision you will have to make for yourself.  Hopefully this article has helped to educate you about the issues with the Hangouts dialer in its current state.

Hopefully Google comes out with some significant updates soon that resolve these problems.  I’m certain they will continue updating the Hangouts app, but we’ll see how many of these issues they address.

Over to You

Did I miss any issues that you may have noticed?  Are there any workarounds for some of these issues that I should know about?  Let me know in the comments.  Thanks!

14 thoughts on “8 Issues with Google Hangouts VoIP Dialer On Android

  1. Can you make a call from Hangouts, using Google Voice, WITHOUT using VOIP, but from your regular cellular carrier? It seems like the answer is no, even though I’d much rather use minutes instead of data when away from a wifi signal.

      1. Well yes, but I guess I assumed that the Google Voice app was being phased out in favor of Hangouts. Having three different dialers on one phone is pretty sub-optimal to me. Thanks for the reply.

        1. First of all let me clear this that I dont want to use data to make calls. I have unlimited minutes so I would rather use that.
          Now, just like we have option to choose Line 1 or Line 2 when we have a dual SIM phone. Is there any way or an app that we can install and we get option to choose either line 1 (native dialer) that will be used to make calls OR use the line 2 icon to choose to make calls via google voice. This way I have the option to choose to make call via google voice OR the native dialer rather than the google voice app asking me everytime to choose google voice to make a call. If i select the option Yes it makes the call via google voice and if I choose No it just drops the call. This is annoying as I nee dto have freedom to select which number should I call via google voice and which number NOT rather than toggling the option everytime.
          Any thoughts please…..

          1. I don’t have much experience with dual SIMs, but it sounds like if you don’t want Google Voice to ask you every time, you will need to say you always want to make calls with Google voice or never. I imagine that will be applying to both SIMs. If anyone else reading this has any tips for this scenario, please let us know. Thanks.

          2. I am not talking about dual sim. I dont have a dual sim. I am just giving an example that just like dual sim phone dialer has 2 call buttons for two different lines can we have an app or do we have an app that can add a second call button in the native dialer and we can program that to google voice. In this way if i need to call 12345 then i can dial the number and either click on call button 1 ( to call via my carrier) or click on call button 2 (to make call via google voice). This way i dont have to see that pop up everytime i want to make a call that shows if i need to make call via google voice AND also my native dialer wont dial all the outgoing calls via google voice. This way I have the freedom to make calls via my carrier or via google voice just by pressing the respective call button 1 or 2.

          3. Oh, I got you. At the moment, no, I don’t think there is a way to do that. However, I’ve heard that Google is making some changes to the dialer app in the newest version of Android, and they are making the dialer a lot more open to integrations from other apps. So, keep a look out, and maybe we’ll have something like you describe soon.

  2. The fact that Hangouts doesn’t have an option to make it the Default Dialer is mind-boggling. Without it, Google has left two crippled dialing apps in the balance. GV can be your default dialer, but it can’t make WiFi calls. Hangouts can make WiFi calls, but the calls can be sent through the default dialer. Why would they do this??

  3. It’s annoying that Hangouts Dialer only implements ACTION_DIAL, not ACTION_CALL. So if you want to use Google Now to make phone calls via the Hangouts Dialer without using your hands, too bad.

  4. I have never had any luck using hangouts as a phone. It seems to work great for text. However, on both my android and my computer the call quality sucks, if it goes through at all.

    This is the first and only product I have seen Google completely drop the ball on. I am starting to see more and more growing pains with Google/Android. I am not saying it’s Microsoft by a long shot. But, the thought crossed my mind.

  5. Mine messes up my phone settings with each and every call, and puts the phone into ‘do not disturb’ mode and ‘total silence’. After much heartache and missed calls I know it will happen and so I have to adjust all the phone’s settings again after each Hangouts call and most importantly, TAKE IT OUT OF TOTAL SILENCE / DO NOT DISTURB mode immediately after any Hangouts call. Does the Google Voice app have all these same major glitches as the Hangouts app? I was thinking of uninstalling the Hangouts dialer and trying Google Voice again. Whadayathink?

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