How Google Duo Is Shaking Up the Video Conferencing Crowd

How Google Duo Is Shaking Up the Video Conferencing Crowd
Google Is Emphasizing Simplicity
Cross-Platform Support Is a Biggie
The Service Works Across WiFi and LTE
There's a Neat 'Knock Knock' Feature
Google Is Promising High-Quality Video
What About Google Hangouts?
There Are iOS, Android Requirements
Here Are Its Chief Competitors
Duo Has a Thing for Security and Privacy
Duo Is a Free App With No In-App Purchases
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How Google Duo Is Shaking Up the Video Conferencing Crowd

Google Duo is notable in that the video-calling app is easy to use and works across both iOS and Android. Here's a look at the world's most popular app.

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Google Is Emphasizing Simplicity

Central to the Duo experience is simplicity. Google designed the app so users can access their contacts quickly and, with a single tap, request to hold a video conference with another user. The app's design is stripped down to let users make video calls in just seconds.

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Cross-Platform Support Is a Biggie

Google hopes to differentiate itself from Apple's FaceTime by offering Duo support on both iOS and Android. The feature means Android users can call iOS users and vice versa. So far, Duo doesn't support Windows 10 Mobile.

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The Service Works Across WiFi and LTE

Google Duo supports calling across both WiFi networks and LTE. The company says the service will work on any WiFi or LTE network, so carrier choice will not matter. In addition, the call can switch to and from WiFi easily without ever losing a connection.

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There's a Neat 'Knock Knock' Feature

Google Duo includes a "Knock Knock" feature that alerts users to an incoming call. The recipient then has the ability to look at a preview of the video call before deciding whether to answer. It's an especially useful tool when someone receives a call from a person he or she doesn't know, and isn't sure why they're calling.

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Google Is Promising High-Quality Video

Google says its behind-the-scenes technology is designed specifically to deliver high-quality video across both WiFi and LTE. While many people who currently use Duo say that it achieves that goal, be aware that—like any other video app—quality will depend on connection speeds.

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What About Google Hangouts?

Duo technically competes with Google Hangouts' video-calling feature, but Google said at its I/O Conference earlier this year when it announced Duo that it would not abandon Hangouts. Instead, it expects both apps to live on and provide users options on how they'd like set up video conferences. However, Google Hangouts On Air, the company's live-streaming service, will be discontinued in September.

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There Are iOS, Android Requirements

Not all iOS and Android users will be able to get on Duo. According to its listing in the Google Play marketplace, Duo requires Android 4.1 or later to work. On the Apple side, users can run Duo on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, but will need to run iOS 9.0 or later.

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Here Are Its Chief Competitors

Duo has several competitors, but arguably its chief opponents are Apple's FaceTime, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Skype also might fall into that pack, although Skype is a bit more sophisticated to serve business users. Google has designed Duo to be simple to use, and that's what Facebook and Apple, especially, are trying to achieve.

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Duo Has a Thing for Security and Privacy

Google noted in a blog post Aug. 15 that the company's Duo application was built "with an emphasis on privacy and security." To that end, Google has said that all video calls between users are "end-to-end encrypted." In other words, there is no way for third parties, including law enforcement and even Google, to see what two users are chatting about on Duo.

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Duo Is a Free App With No In-App Purchases

Google seems committed to making Duo as accessible to as many users as possible. The app description notes the program is free and includes no in-app purchases. Google has so far said that it has no plans to change that strategy in the future.

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