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App Review: How Google Duo Measures Up for Video Calling

Back at it’s conference in May, Google announced a brand new video calling app. On August 15th it was finally launched. Google Duo is about as vanilla an app as they get, making the process of sending and receiving one-on-one video calls as simple and uncomplicated as possible.

Google Duo was intended to be the simplest cross-device video calling app yet, and in that quest the tech giant have been rather successful. Duo makes use of a sleek, bare bones interface. Once opened, users see their face and a button allowing you to scroll through most recent calls or your phone book.

The most welcoming feature is the lack of any intrusive branding. Unlike Skype or video calls on Facebook Messenger, Duo was created as a standalone app that didn’t rely on a larger service to work, which means that what we have here is something that removes the complications from video calls.

It was announced on the Official Google Blog on Monday. Cited were three specific key points; a simple interface, a fast and reliable service, and a human design. The first two are a given, due to the vanilla nature of the design and features. The third is the most interesting point, and also happens to be the one that will either spell success for the network or lead to it’s demise. This is what they have to say…

“We designed Duo to feel warm and inviting, focused on just you and the person you’re calling. To make calls feel more like an invitation rather than an interruption, we created a feature in Duo called Knock Knock which lets you see live video of your caller before you answer, giving you a sense of what they’re up to and why they want to chat.”

Alongside this nifty little “knock knock” function, Duo is completely free to use (relying, like Whatsapp, on your number), has end-to-end encryption and is available on both Android and iOS.

Our verdict – although Duo lacks enhanced features like messaging people if you’re not free to talk, the beauty is in it’s simplicity. If you’re looking for a completely simple and accessible platform to video-chat with someone, Duo takes the biscuit. 

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