As part of the ever expanding feature list in Google Hangouts, you can now call businesses straight from their Google search results page on PCs. Calls are free to shops in the U.S. and Canada, while calls to international numbers are charged at Hangouts standard charge rates.
Google added outgoing Google Voice calls to Hangouts last July as part of the company's continued de-emphasis on Google Chat, which has offered phone calls via Google Voice for years.
How it works
Let's say it's a Friday morning and you're doing a search for the phone number for Artie's Delicatessen on 83rd Street in New York. Because who doesn't love ordering challah french toast to kickstart their day?
At the top of the search page you'll see a quick answer with the phone number, and the phone number will also be in the knowledge graph box on the right.
Both the phone number in the quick answer and the knowledge graph will be clickable, and choosing either one will open a Hangouts window.
Once Hangouts powers up, you'll be presented with the option to call as well as the cost of the call (free, in this case). A few seconds later, you'll actually be calling the restaurant.
For best results in getting the quick answer at the top of the page make sure you include the keyword "phone" in your searches.
Calling phone numbers via your browser with one-click is really an old trick. Skype, for example, has offered this feature for years via its click to call add-on. Google has also let you do this with the Google Voice Chrome plugin. But baking one-click calling right into Google's search results is a handy trick for those times you want to make a quick call.
For this Hangouts trick to work, you'll need to be signed in to your Google account, but it will work from any major browser, including Internet Explorer. It's not quite as cool as answering mobile phone calls from the desktop, but it's still a handy feature when you need it.