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Google Home starts rolling out voice calling

Soon, you can use Google's smart speaker to call your contacts.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

"Hey Google, call Mom."

Give that command to your Google Home, and starting Wednesday, it might work. The Google Home is a smart speaker that responds to your voice commands. It works as a music streamer, a smart-home controller and a personal assistant. Soon, you can also use it to make free calls with your voice via your home's Wi-Fi network.

Say the wake words "OK Google" or "Hey Google" and you can ask Google to call anyone in your contacts. Google Home can also call businesses, but not 911 for the time being. The voice-calling feature ties into Home's voice recognition as well. You and your spouse can both sync your accounts to the Home, then when you say "Call Mom" Home will know to check your contacts specifically.

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First announced at Google's developer conference in May, Google Home's voice-calling feature looks primed to outdo the same feature on the Amazon Echo. Calling with an Echo is limited to other Alexa-based devices. Home can't receive any incoming calls or call other Homes, but you can call any phone-based contact in the US or Canada for free.

The catch: you'll likely show up as an unknown caller for the recipient. However, if you're a Google Voice or Project Fi user, the person on the other end of the call can see who's calling if you'd like. Google plans to roll out that option for everyone else by the end of the year.

Google's announcement specifically says voice calls will be ready "soon." We'll take the Home for a test drive as a telephone as soon as we're able.