The Gmail app on your mobile device isn’t just a way for you to send and receive emails. You can also use the app to make a voice or video call with a colleague, business partner or other contact. Since late 2021, Gmail has offered access to calling via its built-in chat feature. Using the Gmail app for Android or iOS, you can call a mobile phone, landline or VoIP number. And you can receive voice or video calls from another person.
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The voice and video calling feature is available for Google Workspace, G Suite, and personal Google accounts. You can make and receive one-on-one calls but not group calls. For group calling, you would need to use Google Meet, which is accessible from the Gmail app, though it requires you to send a link to the meeting to other participants. For this reason, the integrated voice and video calling is quicker and easier for individual calls.
If you don’t already have the Gmail app on your phone or tablet, download it for iOS/iPadOS or Android. From there, open the app and enable the Chat icon if you don’t see it on the bottom toolbar. To do this, tap the hamburger icon in the upper left and select Settings. Tap the email address for your Gmail account. In the General section, turn on the switch or tap the box for Show the chat and spaces tab (Figure A).
Return to the main Gmail screen. You should now see a Chat icon at the bottom sporting an image of a dialog balloon. Tap that icon. If you have a chat history with other people, tap the name of a person you wish to call. Otherwise, tap the icon for New Chat and type the name or email address of the person you want to call (Figure B).
The screen for the contact shows a phone icon and a camera icon at the top. Tap the phone icon to place an audio call. Assuming the other person is available to answer the call, you’ll then be connected. When finished with the call, tap the red phone icon to hang up. Gmail will ask you to rate the quality of the call (Figure C).
To place a video call, tap the camera icon. After the other person answers, you’ll both be able to see and speak to each other. But, you can do even more. Tap the kebab menu to access other options, including exchanging messages, sharing the screen, and showing captions (Figure D).
To spice up your appearance, tap the Effects icon on the small video thumbnail. From there, you can apply background images, filters, or other effects to your video. Tap the different icons to explore the various effects. When done, tap the phone icon to hang up (Figure E).