How to make voice and video calls from the Gmail app

You can kick off a voice and video call from Gmail’s mobile app on your iPhone or Android phone. Here’s how.

Image: Garmon/Adobe Stock

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).

Figure A

Turn on chat and spaces option in Gmail app settings
Figure A: Enable the Chat icon via Gmail’s General settings.

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).

Figure B

Call options on Gmail app
Figure B: Select the person you wish to chat with.

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).

Figure C

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

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).

Figure D

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

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).

Figure E

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

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