How Google Duo Is Shaking Up the Video Conferencing Crowd

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2016-08-22
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    How Google Duo Is Shaking Up the Video Conferencing Crowd
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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?
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
 

It's hard to believe, given how popular the game has become, but Pokémon Go is no longer the world's most popular app. Google Duo, a new video-calling app from the search giant's application development labs, has become the most popular free program in Apple's App Store and Google Play. The app is Google's latest bet on a booming video-calling market packed with competitors including Facebook Messenger, Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Microsoft's Skype and Apple's FaceTime. Google is hoping that its stripped-down Duo can stand above the crowd by working across both iOS and Android: The company argues that this level of simplicity isn't matched by the current field of video calling/conference services. Google Duo also includes a nifty preview feature to let recipients see who is calling. It even works across both WiFi and LTE networks. So far, those features appear to be catching on with users. This slide show discusses the features that are attracting users to Google Duo and why it's succeeding in such a packed market. Read on to learn more.

 
 
 
 
 
Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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