Duo, Google’s video calling app goes live; will take on Skype, FaceTime

Google's Duo, a video-calling app for one-on-one interactions, is now live. The app works on Android and iOS.

Written by Shruti Dhapola | Updated: August 16, 2016 12:59 pm
Duo, Google, Google Duo, Google Duo app, Duo App download, Duo India app, Duo video-calling, Duo vs FaceTime, Duo video, Duo Android Duo, Google’s app, for video-calling will challenge other apps in the market. The app is being rolled out from today.

Google’s Duo, a video-calling app for one-on-one interactions, is now live. Google had announced Duo and Allo (a new messaging app) at the annual I/O conference in 2016. Duo is a cross-platform app, which will work on Android and iOS. Users will need only their mobile number to sign into Duo.

With Duo, comparisons to FaceTime are inevitable, given the simple interface and that video-calling only feature. Duo has a ‘Knock Knock’ feature on Android where users can get a live video preview of the incoming call, even on a locked screen. On iOS, Knock doesn’t work on locked screen, but the live video preview can be seen if a user has the app open.

FaceTime comparisons aside, Google Product Manager Amit Fulay believes Duo has more than a chance in the competitive market of video-calling apps. “Video-calling is the next big thing, but it has been full of friction in terms of user experience, and there are trust issues. You need a good network, a good time to do a video-call. So we decided to create an app that is really simple, and felt inviting. With Duo, we want to make it as simple as voice-calling,” says Fulay. He points out that unlike FaceTime, Duo works across Android and iOS, and has a seamless transition from cellular to WiFi.

On the network efficiency of Duo, Google’s Product Manager says “our app is reliable across networks, and works across platforms. So if your network is not that good, it will adjust the video definition accordingly, and Duo is smart enough to adapt to these conditions.”

Google’s Duo has a simple interface and will let users just type for a contact with whom they wish to do a video-call. A user needs only their mobile number to log-in, and not the Google account as Hangouts. And Google is hoping this simple log-in process will work to its advantage, and bring in more users, especially the first time Android users from India, who wish to try out video-calling. In India, WhatsApp remains the most popular messaging app and it relies on mobile numbers to create an account, unlike Google Hangouts which needs a Gmail ID.

Also read: Google I/O 2016: Allo and Duo messaging apps, and what they offer

Other than the simple interface for Duo, Fulay also says it is not a data hog. “The default settings limit data usage on this app, and we’ve tried to optimise data consumption,” he adds.

Google says the decision to keep the messaging and video-calling apps separate was a deliberate one, so as to let a user choose an app for a dedicated purpose. Also Duo is end-to-end encrypted for all calls, unlike Allo where only messages in the incognito mode are end-to-end encrypted. Google says in Allo’s case they were bringing their machine learning to the app, which is why the end-to-end encryption was not made default mode.

On the broader messaging strategy, Fulay says Allo and Duo are geared for consumers, while Hangouts will be seen more for productivity. “For consumers, we think Allo and Duo will be more suited. The only identity needed will be mobile numbers, and we’re hoping first time smartphone users will take to them. Hangouts will be more around productivity, and Google apps,”says Google’s Product Manager.

According to Google, the idea with Duo is to start fresh, and create a simple app for making video-calls. Whether Duo helps Google get the edge in mobile video-calling will be closely watched.

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    Jan 17, 2017 at 11:02 am
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      1. rajat nandi
        Aug 16, 2016 at 9:17 pm
        Google Duo SMS registration now available in India
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