Meet Google Duo, New Video Calling App for Android and iOS

Google Duo, a simple video calling app announced at Google I/O on May 18, 2016, alongside messaging App Allo is now official. For many, video calling might not sound like something new. Hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger as been meeting all video call needs with friends and loved once not to mention the anticipated WhatsApp video call feature and the Facebook group call which is gaining prominence.

Duo which has it’s strong point as a simple 1-to-1 video calling app available for Android and iOS takes the complexity out of video calling so that you can be together in the moment wherever you are. And this is what sets it apart from all other video calling apps. Let me take you into the world of Duo.

Meet Google Duo Video Calling App

There are several interesting features that are worth noting on Google Duo video calling App and we have listed them below.

Sign-up; Just Your Phone Number

Unlike most Google’s applications, you will be required to sign-up using a Google Gmail account. But not so with Google Duo app. With a simple interface, the Duo has carved a niche for itself by taking the complexity out of video calling, so that you can be together in the moment wherever you are.

Duo allows you sign up with just your phone number. Once you install it, you’ll receive a verification code via SMS to ensure that it’s actually you that’s signing in. However, you can’t use two phones at the same time to make or receive Duo video calls. Each time you log back in on another phone, you’ll have to re-verify, just you do on WhatsApp. It really feels like it was designed for a single mobile phone at a time.

Designed For Android and iOS Users Only

Duo designed for video call between Android and iOS.
Duo allows for video calling across Android and iOS.

Though a cross-platform app, it is only available for Android and iOS devices. This is because they are the most used mobile operating systems. So, BB10, Windows, OS X, or Chrome OS users may not have a taste of Google’s new video calling app, Duo.

Preview Call with Knock Knock Before You Pick

see previews with Knock Knock
Preview caller with Knock Knock

Another unique feature of the Duo is the Knock Knock. This gives you a video preview of who is calling before they can actually see you. If you are the one initiating the call, you will get a notice that says your video is visible and this means everything you’re doing can be seen by the recipient, so don’t try to pick your nose before they pick up!

If you’re on Android, you can see the caller even on the lock screen. iOS doesn’t give developers access to the lock screen in this fashion, but if you have your phone unlocked and the app ready, you’ll see the caller before you decide to answer.

You can disable Knock Knock

Before you freak out about seeing what is not intended for your eyes from an incoming call, know that this feature only works with people in your contact list, so random strangers can’t flash you. And of course, you can disable it in Duo’s Settings menu if you prefer. You can’t disable Knock Knock on a person-to-person basis, though, so it’s Knock Knock or nothing.

Duo is a Video Calling App

Duo High-quality video calling experince
High-quality video

It is not for text messaging. Google Duo provides a high-video calling experience while using it on WIFi or good 3G/4G network. Though if the network gets really bad and falls to 2G while on a video call, the app drops to an audio call. Basically, there is no “make an audio call” and it is as simple as that!

Its interface is super simple

Duo has an incredibly user-friendly and intuitive interface. Before you begin a call, you’ll see icons to start a video call and your recent contacts (sorry, there’s no audio-only option). During a call, you’ll see yourself (in a small little circle), and icons to mute audio, switch cameras and hang up. Video from the other line fills up your screen and that’s pretty much it. If you’d rather have your camera fill up the screen (for example, you’re touring a house to the person on the other line), just tap the preview circle and your view will switch.

Calls are end-to-end encrypted

Duo is built on Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) technology, a standard that allows voice, video, and P2P file transfers without any additional plugins or software. Just like WhatsApp, your video chats are end-to-end encrypted, so you don’t have to worry about anyone (including Google!) spying on you. And if the government (or anyone else) asks Google for data, it can’t decrypt the content of your calls.

Duo is meant for phones, not tablet

Officially, Google Duo is app only supports phones. If you download it directly from Play Store into your tablet, it will prompt you that it does not have support for tablet. However, you can use Xender to share it or download the apk file from others sources and it will work just fine on installation.

On iPad, you can find it in the store if you toggle the switch to show iPhone apps, and it’ll install and function. But it’s not optimized for iPad; it runs in “blown-up iPhone app” mode.

You can block video call spams

Got an ex-boyfriend who keeps calling you up to see if you’ve changed your mind about him yet? You can easily block him from inside the Duo settings panel. When you block a person on Duo, the person won’t know it. When they call, they’ll just hear your line ring and ring continuously.

Final Word

Basically, Duo bridges the gap between iOS and Android, gives end-to-encryption, and is simple to use without the gmail registration hassle. Check Google Play and iTunes store to pre-register. The question now is, can Google Duo video calling app replace other video calling apps? Will you switch to from FaceTime, Hangout, Skype, etc to Duo?


I am an Electrical Engineer and a blogger who loves to share about latest Tech news, Online money making ideas, Gadget reviews, Security, Computers, Android etc. You can capture him on: Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, BBM, Telegram.

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