Google Duo – ‘Look Before You Leap’ Simple Video Calls on Android or iOS Smartphones

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On August 15th 2016, Google released Google Duo, a video calling app that would compete with Apple’s FaceTime and Facebook’s WhatsApp. Google Duo was first introduced at Google’s I/O developer conference in May 2016 along with Allo a messaging app.

justintweetIn a matter of days after its release the app has already reached the top of the charts in Google Play Store as per a tweet by Justin Uberti, the principal software engineer for Duo. In a recent blog by Justin, he points out that half of mobile users don’t make video calls because of the complexity involved in currently available apps. Most video call apps either work with the smartphone and Operating System (OS) of their own kind or have issues with performance which is frustrating for mobile users. Google has had its own video call products such as Google Talk for PCs and also offers Android compatible Facebook Messenger, Skype, WeChat and lesser known apps that would allow mobile users to make video calls. With Duo, Google wants to massively simplify video calling and also improve performance and reliability of the calls even on slower network speeds.

Google Duo’s main capabilities are listed below:

Flexible Operating System

Duo relies on your smartphone’s phone number and the app is available for both Android and iOS. This makes a big difference if your friends and contacts are sporting smartphones based on different operating systems. As per Google, no separate account is required, signing up is easy and you can make instant calls from your Samsung Android phone to your friends’s Apple iPhone.

Flexible Connectivity

Although other video calling apps claim high performance, as per Justin, Google Duo team has focused on solving the performance and call dropping issue over any type of network.

We all know how it feels when a call fails to connect or when video gets choppy. 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.

Mobile users will now be able to switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data automatically without dropping call. For business and leisure travelers, this would be a great feature if Wi-Fi drops at a public place.

Look Before You Leap

With Duo, Google is surely trying to help mobile users in deciding which calls to answer and which ones to pass. As per Justin:

To make calls feel more like an invitation rather than an interruption, we created a feature in Duo called Knock Knock 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. Knock Knock makes video calling more spontaneous and welcoming, helping you connect with the person before you even pick up.


Google CEO Sundar Pichai is certainly pleased with the product and its availability in multiple countries and tweeted his message. As the product gains ground, we will know what works vs doesn’t and how Apple and FaceBook respond to the new competition.

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