Update, January 29, 2016:Added new information about the Hangouts Dialer app.
The recent integration of Google Voice into the Hangouts application lets users call phone numbers and send texts, acting a second phone line. These new features are really useful if you have a limited number of minutes or texts on your carrier plan, or if your cellular signal is less reliable than your Wi-Fi signal.
Here are five tips to help make your Google Voice in Hangouts experience more pleasant:
Note: Before you get started with the tips, make sure that the boxes next to Incoming phone calls and Messages are checked in the Settings area of the Hangouts app.
Make calls over Wi-Fi/4G/3G
If you've used the Google Voice app in the past, you may have set it to use your Voice number when making calls. These calls still used your carrier minutes, instead of your data signal. As a solution, Google created a second app that acts as a plug-in for Hangouts, called Hangouts Dialer. This app will add a dialer tab to Hangouts, allowing you to make outbound calls with your Voice number over Wi-Fi/data (VoIP). After you download the app, make sure to open it at least once to connect it to the original Hangouts app. You do not need this app to receive video calls via Hangouts.
Disable double ring
When a call is coming in, you don't need two separate notifications going off at the same time on your phone. To stop this from happening, disable call forwarding to your mobile number in your Voice account. Afterward, only the Hangouts app will ring. Here's how:
Log in to Google Voice on the Web.
Click the cog menu in top right-hand corner and choose Settings.
In the first tab, uncheck the box next to your mobile carrier number.
Adjust notification sounds
By default, the Hangouts app will play the same alert for instant messages, Google Voice SMS, and carrier SMS (if you are using it as your default SMS app). This may work for someone who always has a moment to check his or her phone, but if you want different notifications, you can easily change them in the Settings menu.
Settings > Google account name > Hangouts messages & invites > Sound
Google Voice SMS
Settings > Google account name > Google Voice SMS > Sound
Settings > SMS > Sound
Change 'send from' number
If you set the Hangouts app as your default SMS client, you may want to adjust which number is being used when replying to someone. You have three options:
Smart reply (uses the number that you were contacted on to reply)
These options can be accessed through the Hangouts settings:
SMS> Send SMS from
If you want to use the stock dialer app on your device but have your Google Voice number appear on caller ID, keep the original Google Voice app and select the use Google Voice to make all calls in the settings.
Additionally, you can now set the Hangouts Dialer app as your default dialer, which will display your Google Voice number on Caller ID.