Google announces Facetime competitor called Duo

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At Google I/O 2016 today, Google announced a pair of communication platforms they are making available for users. The first of these is their new messaging platform called Allo. To go along with that, Google also introduced attendees at the conference to Duo, a one-to-one video calling platform for mobile devices. Like the Allo app, Duo will be tied to a user’s phone number and it will work on both Android and iOS.

The interface for Duo was intentionally designed to be simple so that users can make or take a video call with little more than the tap of a button. In conjunction with Duo, Google created a feature called Knock Knock. This feature provides a preview of the incoming caller’s video before a user accepts a call. Assuming a user decides to answer the video call, Duo will seamlessly transition to video calling from the preview.

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One of the goals of Google was to make Duo simple and fast, but not just in making use of it. The interface is sparse with just a video preview window and a panel for selecting a contact to reach out to and a button to flip the camera. The optimization extends beyond the interface though as Google tweaked the code so that Duo video calls will work even where the network is not the strongest or fastest. This was achieved through reliance on the team behind WebRTC which developed a protocol called QUIC.

Google is hoping that the new Duo app, weighing in at only 5 MB and capable of running on both Android and iOS, will find greater acceptance than other platforms like Facetime, Skype or even Google’s own Hangouts. One pitfall though will be the lack of a desktop client, limiting Duo to mobile devices only.

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Between Allo and Duo, do you think Google may succeed with a messaging and communications platform or will these just join the long litany of Google ideas that never quite pan out?

Duo is scheduled to be released later this summer. Stick with TalkAndroid for more coverage from Google I/O 2016.


About the Author: Jeff Causey

Raised in North Carolina, Jeff Causey is a licensed CPA in North Carolina. Jeff's past Android devices include an HTC EVO, a Samsung Note II, and an LG G3, and a Motorola Moto X Pure Edition along with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1. He currently uses a Samsung Galaxy S8 and (very rarely) a Nexus 7 (2013). He is also using a Verizon-branded Motorola Moto Z Play Droid supplied by his job. Jeff used to have a pair of Google Glass and a Moto 360 Sport in his stable of gadgets. Unfortunately, his wife and kids have all drunk the Apple Kool-Aid and have i-devices. Life at home often includes demonstrations of the superiority of his Android based devices. In his free time, Jeff is active in his church, a local MINI Cooper car club, and his daughter's soccer club. Jeff is married, has three kids, and a golden retriever.