Google intros new Duo app to simplify video-calling

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Google has released its simplified video-calling app, Google Duo, for Android and iOS.

The new app, originally announced at its I/O developer conference in California in May, is designed to make video calling easier, between different devices, network providers, network coverage and wireless technologies.

A rival to Apple’s FaceTime, which works only between Apple devices, Google Duo allows one-to-one calls between Android and iOS devices and handover between Wi-Fi and cellular networks. It also makes allowances for calls in limited bandwidth. Google said nearly half of users never make video calls because of such restrictions.

“We’ve built Duo to be fast and reliable, so that video calls connect quickly and work well even on slower networks. Call quality adjusts to changing network conditions to keep you connected. When bandwidth is limited, Duo will gracefully reduce the resolution to keep the call going smoothly,” the company said in a blog post.

“For video calls on the go, Duo will switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data automatically without dropping your call. You can start your call at home, and continue seamlessly even when you head out the door.”

The app requires only a phone number to activate calls, and also incorporates a feature, called Knock Knock, that allows the receiver to see live video of the caller during dialling, before picking up the call. Google said a Knock Knock feature “makes video calling more spontaneous and welcoming”. Calls are encrypted “end-to-end”, the company added.

Last week, Google also introduced two features to its Google Maps service for Android smartphones, designed to make the service simpler and more robust, and get around issues of patchy coverage and limited storage.