Google Duo: The rival to Apple's FaceTime

by Linda Olson August 17, 2016, 1:25

But the chunk of the conversation that's been published to the internet is what the future of Google's other video calling/messaging app Hangouts will bestow.

Duo is extremely easy to set up and start using - all you have to do is verify your phone number and grant the app access to your contacts and camera.

This works best on Android, where it automatically displays the video of the incoming call. Knock Knock lets you see live video of your caller before you answer, giving you a sense of what they're up to and why they want to chat.

Similar to its competitors on the market, Google Duo offers end-to-end encryption for all calls. Forty-seven percent of those in the USA ages 18 and up said they participated in phone-based video calls or chats in 2015, compared to 33 perceent in 2013. As part of the transition to Duo, Google is also starting to deemphasize its existing Google Hangouts video chat, and discontinuing Hangouts On Air live streaming. We were able to do so easily, but it's key to note the video portion pauses until the transition is set. Today we've learned more about Google's plan for the service through Google's VP of communication products, Nick Fox.

According to the Google Play store, it's "a one-to-one video calling app for everyone - created to be simple, reliable and fun, so you never miss a moment". Whether you're on Android or iOS, WiFi or a bad 3G connection, it works easily. However, the knock-knock is an Android-only feature.

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A shortcut to initiating a call: you can tap on pictured circles representing contacts you recently spoke with. This will be an important to feature to watch, especially if Google's past attempts at competition are any indication (i.e. the afterthought social network Google Plus). Most immediately noticeable will be a real-time video preview of the person calling. Awesome! Well, this feature is not available for the iOS users.

Google hopes that it can beat out those other services with two main things: being available on every platform and offering a special feature called "Knock, knock".

"What we don't really need is another discrete video-call app - we need universal video calling", said Jude.

Google has unusually struggled so far to mimic the success of Gmail, the main form of electronic mail used by people and businesses, to video messaging like its peers Facebook, Apple and Microsoft have.

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