Google has just started rolling out downloads for its new 1-to-1 video calling app, Duo, available for both Android and iOS. Join us after the break for all the details.
Announced at this year’s Google I/O, alongside messaging app Allo, Duo brings in a new strategy for Google by offering a free and simple solution for making video calls with family and friends that relies only on your phone number (you don’t need a Google account to set up the app). Google states in its blog post:
“To get started, all you need is your phone number and you’ll be able to reach people in your phone’s contacts list. No separate account is required, so you can sign up in just a few steps. From there, you can instantly begin a video call with a single tap.”
As simple as that does sound, it’s important to note that the person you want to call also needs to have Duo installed on their phone. Once you initiate a call, the person on the receiving end will be greeted with a full screen, live preview of your video before they even answer.
It’s a neat feature that Google is calling Knock Knock which is designed to bring you right into the emotion of the call and connect you better with the person on the other end. However, this feature will only work in its full glory on Android. Apple restricts lockscreen usage for third party apps so to experience Knock Knock on your iOS device you need to already have Duo up and running. And no need to worry: Knock Knock only shows the live preview of the person initiating the call so you won’t be surprised at an inopportune moment.
Another interesting aspect of Duo is the smart technology running behind the scenes to keep your video call smooth and at the highest quality possible. While you are in a video call, Duo will be monitoring network strength in the background and seamlessly adjust call quality in the event of any loss of network strength. This also works when switching between WiFi and cellular data. Duo will always prioritize using WiFi but if your signal drops or you’re chatting on the go (careful drivers!), the app will switch over to cellular data without disrupting your call. For those worried about high mobile data usage, there is an option to limit that usage that reduces video quality overall to save on those megabytes.
We should also note that privacy was a big concern for Google so all video calls in Duo have full end-to-end encryption. The app is pretty basic right now and more features may be added depending on user feedback. There is no group calling or a desktop version of the app and no immediate plans to introduce those features.
The rollout for Duo is just starting and will happen gradually over the next several days. No word yet when Allo, its companion messaging app, will be released, but shouldn’t be much longer now.