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Google’s super simple cross-platform video calling app ‘Duo’ goes live today

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If you remember, Google had given us a peek of their upcoming social messaging and video calling apps, namely Allo and Duo at the I/O Developer Conference held in May. The users have been given a chance to pre-register for both apps on the Play Store. But, it seems that Duo, the 1-on-1 simple video calling app, is the one we’ll get our hands on first.

With focus on taking out the complexity out of video calling, Google announced that it is making its very basic but useful(as they say) video calling app — Duo available on Android and iOS today. And one could very argue that the Mountain View tech giant is adding another ‘already-dead’ app to its stacked social portfolio comprising of Google+, Hangouts, Spaces, Allo, and more. I actually kind-of agree with the same, but Duo still deserves a fair chance before we completely write it off for being a burden.

Duo, released by Google today is as simple and plain as a video calling app comes. Just like every other messaging/video app out there, all you need is a phone number and you’re in. Being cross-platform, Duo has done away with Google login to complete registration and on-board users. It syncs your contact list and you can select the person who you wish to video call with just a single tap.

Justin Uberti, Principal Software Engineer, in the blogpost says that Duo is so light and quick that one would never have to face a call drop or a choppy video that gets stuck in between. The app has been designed to work well under any network conditions as well. It even works smoothly on slower networks(a common scenario in India) — where the video might drop but audio would continue and you won’t lose communication entirely, he adds. And how’s this possible you ask?

Call quality adjusts to changing network conditions to keep you connected — when bandwidth is limited, Duo will gracefully reduce the resolution to keep the call going smoothly.

continuing to boast about the same, Google adds that one could easily start a call at home and then head out without any interruptions in the call. Duo, though simple-looking, on the backend has been built with the idea to gracefully continue communication in any circumstances. Thus, the app would automatically switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data to keep your call going.

Google says that they’ve built Duo keeping simplicity in mind. There are not many UI elements or features that you can interact with, once you’re in the app or even on the call. You can easily tap on people’s circular profile pictures to initiate a call. Once on a video call, you’ll be greeted with minimalistic UI elements including a hang up button(necessary), a mute button and a toggle to switch between the front and back camera. The person you’re calling appears on the full screen, while you’re circular video feed comes at the bottom left.


Being a competitor to Apple’s FaceTime, Google Duo is even simpler and comprises of barely any confusing features, making it easy to use by even a 5-year old. One of the best and worthy features of Duo is called Knock Knock. If you’re on Duo and you receive a video call from one of your friends, then you’ll be able to see a preview of their video feed before picking up the call. This could be compared to a peep hole in the door, where you could look into it to know who’s calling and what could be the matter at hand.

Knock Knock makes video calling more spontaneous and welcoming, helping you connect with the person before you even pick up.

says Uberti about the human aspect of the apps design.

Finally, like every other messaging app on the market(i feel i’ve said this a lot), Duo has laid great emphasis on your privacy and security. All video calls are end-to-end encrypted to provide you a uncluttered and secure calling experience.

Apple might have been wary about bringing its messaging and video capabilities to other platforms excpet their own, but Google is now planning to bridge the gap and expedite the situation for its gain. We’ll, however, have to wait to see the reception the video calling app receives from the masses, because as history says Google hasn’t been very successful with social apps.

The app is currently being rolled out for Android and iOS and it will be live worldwide in the next few days. Give your friends a wave with Duo!

A hands-on guy fascinated by new apps, technologies and enterprise products.

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