Google Launches 'Duo' App in Bid to Make Video Calling Simpler

Google is hoping the simplified experience will prove popular with users.

August 16, 2016, 10:54 AM

— -- Stand aside FaceTime and Skype. There’s a new video chat app in town.

Google today launched Duo, it’s latest foray into the world of video calling.

Google is billing the new app as a simplified alternative to video chat apps already on the market, saying it “takes the complexity out of video calling.”

The internet search giant has already been in the video calling business for some time with its Google Hangouts App.

However, at its Google I/O conference in May, the company said that it would be launching the video app as well as a text messaging app dubbed Allo, to compete with the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

Allo has not yet launched, and Google has not set a date.

The apps identify users based on their phone numbers, rather than an account with Google, making the experience more similar to that of WhatsApp rather than Facebook Messenger and Apple’s iMessage.

Also setting it apart from other apps is a feature Google is calling “Knock Knock,” which shows the call’s receiver a live video of the incoming caller.

While Duo is available for both Apple and Android devices, it does not allow users to communicate with desktop users -- another factor differentiating it from Facebook Messenger and iMessage.

Google also claims that its new video app is optimized for the mobile experience, and can seamlessly switch between Wi-Fi and cellular connections without the call dropping. Further, the company claims that the video quality will “gracefully reduce” to maintain the call.

Another feature worth noting is encryption. Google, which has championed encryption despite concerns that encryption technologies could be used for criminal or terrorist activity, has said that all calls on Duo will be encrypted end-to-end.

Duo is available in the United States now, and Google says that it will be available worldwide “in the next few days.”

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