Google Duo is the latest entry in Video Calling Apps, that too from Google. It is a straight forward, simple video calling app for Android and iOS. For iPhone users, it does not give much reasons to switch to Due unless they need to call someone who is not a fan of iPhone ie; Android users. Need to say, being an Android fan myself, I found no App in android as easy and simple as Facetime. But here, Google Duo could be a solution to this hassle for Android users.
The plus point with Duo is that, just by installing this app, people can call to Android as well as iPhone users, solving the hassle of platform dependency. So, no matter what phones your friends use, they can be called up within a click of a button, Keeping in mind that both the people should have Duo installed in their phones. Not even a Google account is required to setup Duo, all you need is a working phone number. Simple isn’t it? Till the time Whatsapp comes up with video calling, Duo would be your answer to video calling.
1) Knock Knock
This gives a preview video of who is calling by activating the camera on the other end even before the call is answered. Just like a video door bell. The person who initiates the call will get a notification that their video is visible to the other party. While for the person who gets the call, the video of the other person will come up on top, even when the phone is locked and not inside the app. If you compare this feature with Facetime, It requires the user to be in inside the app to see the other party’s video, else they will get a notification only. Some users may not like this feature of Duo, where the video comes up all of a sudden on the screen and that too if its your boss on the other end !! Before we say that its a bad feature, keep in mind that its an optional feature. You can always turn off this feature altogether, not person to person.
2) Simple User Interface
The user interface cant get simpler than this. All are self exploratory and you have options to mute the audio while on call, switch camera and hang up. No audio only call option which is a drawback.
3) Similar to Hangouts?
Simple answer is NO, it is not similar to Hangouts. Hangouts can be used on desktops and supports messaging, group chats etc. Duo is much more specialized on its one and only purpose, Video Call and it does that a better way.
Google has worked on it to improve the video quality even when you are on a 3G network. However I experience a lag when on a 3G network, but it depends on the other partys network strength as well.
Unfortunately its not available in UAE play store or App store. Well, if anyone reading this are aware of the weird policies of the UAE’s only service provider who controls phone and internet, then you wont be surprised.
6) Other options
How many more do we need in this area? Already we have Skype, Imo, Facebook Messenger, Hangouts and many more, Duo would be competing with all these including their own product Hangouts. Now ALLO is yet to be released, dont know whether that would be another competitor.
Our Verdict: A well designed simple App only for dedicated Video Calling, which does its job decently. iPhone users may still use FaceTime, but since Duo is OS independent, no one can write off it.