Google is taking on Apple’s FaceTime, Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s Messenger with a new video chatting app, dubbed Duo.
Available on both Android and iOS, Duo automatically switches between Wi-Fi and cellular networks depending on best connection speeds. Call quality also adjusts to changing network conditions in order to keep calls connected, with Google saying calls will work well even on slower networks.
A departure from how other Google apps work, Duo uses phone numbers as opposed to Gmail addresses or Google accounts. This allows users to tap into their contact lists on their devices to make it easier to call friends, family and colleagues. This is in contrast to Hangouts, Google’s current video calling and messaging app, which requires a Google account.
Billed as a simple 1-to-1 video calling app, designed to take ‘complexity out of video calling, so that you can be together in the moment wherever you are’, Google has upped the stakes in the video chatting space.
The angle that Google is coming at with this new app is all about reducing complexity. With Google admitting that ‘video calling is the next best thing to being with someone in person, but too often it can be a frustrating or complicated experience’, Duo aims to cut complexity with a simple interface and what Google calls ‘Human design’.
Human Design is explained by Google as way to make calls ‘feel more like an invitation rather than an interruption.’ To fulfil this ‘human design’ a key feature of Due is Knock Knock, which lets users see live video of the incoming caller before answering the call. Google hopes that this will help users connect with the caller before even picking up the call, as the feature gives you an indication of why a certain person may be calling.
Another key feature of Duo is that all calls are end-to-end encrypted, showing that Google built the app with security and privacy in mind.
Although Google grabbed a huge share of the email market with Gmail, the tech giant has been a slow starter when it comes to messaging apps. Hangouts failed to make the intended impact among consumers, significantly lagging behind competitors such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. It is thought that Hangouts will remain, but as a workplace service offering group video conferencing.
Duo will roll-out worldwide in the next few days.
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