Google was all about messaging during this year’s I/O keynote. After announcing a new chat app dubbed Allo, the Mountain View company introduced Duo, a video calling app.
If you can’t wait for Duo to launch, Google has already put the app on the Google Play Store, where you can pre-register. That means you’ll get a notification when the app is officially released.
What separates Duo from other video call apps is that you can see a live video feed of who is calling you before you answer. It’s kind of like the peephole on your front door in that you can see the caller, but the caller can’t see you. Google says this method encourages people to answer the call, rather than reject it.
Duo also looks at your contacts list and will let you know who is using the Duo app, making it easier to get in touch with your friends.
Another key feature is that Duo can seamlessly switch between Wi-Fi and cellular networks, so if you leave your house, it won’t drop your call. It can also control the quality of the video and audio depending on the connection. Duo will always attempt to transmit HD quality video, but it will slightly downgrade the quality level if the connection is weak.
Why isn’t Duo’s functionality included in the Allo messaging app, also announced at Google I/O? It appears that Google is trying to make it super simple for the average user. Apps that have many key features can be confusing for many people. From what we have seen from the app, it’s designed for only one purpose, which is to make it easier to make video calls quicker.
With Facebook, Skype, and FaceTime already available, one would think Google is late to the party, but the company already offers video calling through the Hangouts messaging app. The one advantage to Hangouts is that it can handle multiple users at the same time, including live events. Duo seems to be more of an intimate way for two people to video chat more easily. It’s unclear though, if the existence of Duo (and Allo) will mean the end to the Hangouts app.
Duo launches this summer alongside the Allo messaging app on both Android and iOS.
Updated on 05-24-2016 by Julian Chokkattu: Added in news of Duo arriving on the Play Store for pre-registration.