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Google Launches New Video Chat App

17 August 2016

Duo is extremely easy to set up and start using - all you have to do is verify your phone number and grant the app access to your contacts and camera.

Duo's promise of video calling for everyone on Android and iOS is something that Hangouts already offers, but that didn't move the needle enough, he noted. To make calls feel more like an invitation rather than an interruption, a feature in Duo called Knock Knock is created which lets you see live video of your caller before you answer, giving you a sense of what they're up to and why they want to chat.

Finally, Google said that all calls feature end-to-end encryption, so you should be safe from prying eyes. You have to do everything manually in Android or iOS. How so? People are still using FaceTime, but interest in video chatting has definitely shifted to apps like SnapChat, Messenger, and even Instagram. The company is today launching Duo, with iOS and Android apps. However, it crammed this one app with everything, from text, to voice and video calls. This new innovation takes the complexity out of video calling, so that you can be together in the moment wherever you are.

One early criticism of note, and even this is nitpicky: Duo is mobile-only, which means that there's no desktop app available at launch. With the launch of Duo and the upcoming release of Allo, Google's AI-driven messaging service, there's been a bit of speculation as to what will happen to Hangouts.

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Google is placing a lot of emphasis on Duo's intuitiveness, and, indeed, the app offers a very simple user interface, with one button to place a call. Although Android users will be able to see this video preview on the lock screen, iPhone users will have to tap "Preview" first or be in the app. That's why there is no group calling function - something Google Hangouts originally made famous. Awesome! Well, this feature is not available for the iOS users.

An increasing number of smartphone owners are using their devices for video calls or chats, according to the Pew Research Center. There's really not much more you can ask from a video call app.

Google has hardly reinvented the video calling wheel with Duo, and if you already have a video calling favorite, there isn't a huge incentive to switch.

Google said video calls would work even on slower networks by "gracefully" reducing the resolution to keep the call going smoothly.