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Google Duo promises to bring iOS and Android users closer

Google Duo promises to bring iOS and Android users closer

Google has announced the official roll out of its new video-calling app, Duo. Amid some confusion, it is expected to be "live worldwide in the next few days". The app, debuted at Google I/O earlier this year, is a direct competitor to Apple's FaceTime, but with the added benefit of cross-platform functionality. Does Google have what it takes to make video calling a new norm?

The Google / Apple war finds a new terrain with the release of Duo. The video-calling app is a bold-faced attempt to squeeze users out of Apple's soggy sponge and into the clutches of the green figurine. As a direct alternative to FaceTime, Duo has the significant advantage of being available in both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Users, whether on an iOS or Android device, can call one another. Like the collapse of a technological Berlin Wall, Duo unites users, face-to-face, across the no man's land of OS division.

Duo lets you do something you never wanted to do before: talk to an iOS user. / © Google

Google is placing a lot of emphasis on Duo's intuitiveness, and, indeed, the app offers a very simple user interface, with one button to place a call. Everyone in your contacts list is accessible from within the app, circumventing the clumsiness of Skype, and, of course, you don't have to worry what device the person you're calling is using, as it works across devices and operating systems. Duo has also got the jump on WhatsApp, which has still yet to add a video-call feature, despite rumors of its imminence swirling for months. Facebook Messenger has featured video calls for over a year, but the button is so discreet that many users neglect it.

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Facebook Messenger added video calls over a year ago. / © AndroidPIT

While Duo has already won the intuitive arms race, the problem remains that many people simply don't use video calling. Google hints, rather explicitly, that this is Apple's fault, saying that you "shouldn’t have to worry about whether your call will connect, or if your friend is using the same type of device as you are. It’s no wonder that nearly half of us never make video calls on mobile". But is this purely because of fear that our call will not go through? 

Perhaps Google Duo will answer this question emphatically. Only time will tell.

How much time it will take is currently unclear, as the app has rolled out to considerable confusion. At the time of writing, it appears to only be available and operating in the US. When users in other countries can expect to gain access to the service is currently unknown, and there has been no mention of Duo's partner app, Allo, which is the text-messaging arm of the beast and was presented alongside Duo at Google I/O.

As any experienced Android user learnt long ago: when it comes to Google, patience is key.

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  • Move to business use

  • Jef B Oct 8, 2016 Link to comment

    Amazing how, after Star Trek snd Space 1999 of 40 years ago, video calls are shunned by the masses. I suppose it's partly because the call quality is still usually dodgy at best. Faster internet everywhere would solve the pixelated stuttering screens. Heck, 16 years into the new millenium, even voice calls are invariably problematic, so what chance does real-time moving pictures stand? Those of us who grew up in the 60's & 70's, who avidly witnessed the magic of instant video calling performed by the likes of James Tiberius Kirk et al, still dream.

  • I remember listening to a lecture by a former McKinsey consultant who specialized on automotive. He said that most of the global car manufacturers have models across the whole range of available classes to compete with other car manufacturers. BMW is not into business-class cars, but they have such models, same goes for Daimler having a faint footprint in sport urban cars.

    The catch here is that when they are not "on their own turf", they are usually losing heaps of money. One could call it a waste of time and resources, but then strategists will call it a smart move - companies keep each other busy and hustling at all times. Otherwise, the other company can get too strong on its own turf and eventually set their bags for yours.

    Video calling is not the sexiest of all the modes of communication at the moment, but Google wants a footprint in it to keep others busy and distracted from its own turf even at the expense of a few millions.

  • What a waste of resources, honestly. People are not really using Video chat on a phone, no matter how its brought to them. We already have enough video call apps, and even hangouts is capable of it. Is anyone using it? No! And for a reason, they dont care about it.
    I dont understand why Google thought it was time to release another app, and then such a limited one.. well lets see if Alo can impress...

  • I've tried using video calling via Skype, yes it's great for speaking to people who you don't get to see often but for everyday calls it just feels like a unnecessary extra step.

  • What will happen to Hangouts, then?

  • Rideau Aug 16, 2016 Link to comment

    What about Google Allo? That's more interasting than Duo...

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