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Make voice and video calls from the Gmail app

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Hand holding and tapping smartphone with Gmail logo on it with corresponding text.
Image: Garmin/Adobe Stock

The Gmail app on your mobile device isn’t just a way 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 the end of 2021, Gmail offers access to calling via the built-in chat function. With the Gmail app for Android or iOS you can call a mobile, landline or VoIP number. And you can receive voice or video calls from another person.

SEE: Home video setup: what you need to look and sound professional (TechRepublic Premium)

The voice and video calling feature is available for Google Workspace, G Suite, and personal Google accounts. You can make and receive one-to-one calls, but not group calls. For group conversations, you must use Google Meet, which is accessible through the Gmail app, but you must send a link to the meeting to other participants. For this reason, the integrated voice and video call is faster 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 top left corner and select Settings. Tap the email address for your Gmail account. In the General section, turn on the toggle or tap the box for the Show Chat and Rooms tab (Image A

Image A

Enable chat and spaces option in Gmail app settings
Figure A: Enable the Chat icon in Gmail’s general settings.

Return to the main Gmail screen. You should now see a Chat icon at the bottom with an image of a dialog bubble. Tap that icon. If you have chat history with other people, tap the name of a person you want to call. Otherwise, tap the New Chat icon and type the name or email address of the person you want to call (Figure B

Figure B

Calling options in the Gmail app
Figure B: Select the person you want to chat with.

The contact screen shows a phone icon and a camera icon at the top. Tap the phone icon to make an audio call. Assuming the other person is available to answer the call, you will then be connected. When you’re done with the call, tap the red phone icon to hang up. Gmail will ask you to rate the call quality (Figure C

Figure C

active call in Gmail app
Figure C: Make a voice call by selecting the phone icon.

Tap the camera icon to make a video call. After the other person answers, you can see and speak to each other. But you can do even more. Tap the kebab menu to access other options such as exchanging messages, screen sharing, and showing captions (Figure D

Figure D

video call in the Gmail app, with a Homer Simpson doll as the other caller
Figure D: Make a video call by selecting the camera icon.

To spice up your look, 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 different effects. When you’re done, tap the phone icon to hang up (Digits E

Digits E

different backgrounds and effects in the Gmail video call
Image E: Choose from different backgrounds and effects during your video call.
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