Back in May 2016, Google announced the release of Google Duo, a new video calling app for Android and iOS devices.
The app is essentially being developed to tie the gap between the two operating systems, making it quicker and easier to make calls across both platforms. Although Apple currently have the incredibly popular FaceTime app, there is no way for Android users to access FaceTime and join in with calls, and with Android holding a significant proportion of the market share with Android devices they appear to be missing out. Therefore the idea is to make Duo available on both iOS and Android devices platforms to enable a quick and easy way to video chat across the two.
The app will be released worldwide over the coming weeks as a free service for smartphones running Android or iOS. Calls will be encrypted and the video resolution will vary depending on the speed of your connection. Similarly to Facetime, Duo will only require a person's phone number to connect together whereas many other services such as Skype or Facebook's video calling functions require you to have a separate account set up with the service to be able to initiate calls with others. Problems then come to light when you find that the person you are trying to contact doesn’t use that particular platform or uses an alternative email address that you don't know of, somewhat defeating the object of making video calling a quick and easy thing to do.
Google has been offering video calling through Hangouts since 2013, but it wasn't as simple, as it still required you to setup a separate Google (Gmail) account to contact others. However the company is now redesigning the Hangouts service for business meetings and won't plug in to the new video chat service that is being classed as a far simpler and much more reliable way to communicate with friends and family.
The app has been designed to feel warm and inviting, focusing on just yourself and the person that you are calling. One new feature that has not yet been seen on other video calling platforms is something called "knock knock", which will allow users receiving a call to see a live video of the caller before they answer, providing a sense of what they're up to and why they want to chat.
Currently it appears that Duo is not yet available on the UK App Store for iOS or Googles Play Store. This may be device specific at the moment, or may be rolling out incrementally to various devices over the coming weeks.
Have you had a chance to use Google Duo yet? If so please let us know what you think!