Google is in the midst of pivoting their strategy when it comes to offering communication tools. In an effort to this effect, they’re now offering users Duo, their new minimalist vidchat app that offers users the chance to use Facetime-like functions and is now ahead of the game when it comes to market peers like Whatsapp who are promising to roll out an imminent video calling feature. What’s most intriguing about this app is that it doesn’t need to be linked to a Google account, because in order to access you’ll need to type in your actual phone number. Tapping on people logged in your address book from your phone’s contacts app is the only way you’ll be able to start a call. The party receiving the call must also have Duo installed on their phone, of course.
Google Duo calls upon users love for extreme simplicity. It even goes as far as to only display a single button in its whole interface which is essentially just your screen displaying the images captured from your camera. This lone button basically allows you to make calls to contacts in your phonebook, and access previous past calls from a log. What they’ve come up with this time is a truly no-frills app. No stickers, filters or any other kind of excess here. Duo stripped down to bare bones features that are centered around its main goal of providing functionality: two people calling each other with live camera shots. Nothing more, nothing less.
Calls can go through WiFi or mobile data with image quality and speed being adequate on either channel. Video reception quality is more than what might be expected from this kind of app. One question left on many users’ minds is just why Google feels the need to segment their app features even more. Hangouts is already a widely used Google messaging platform that could easily package this feature. However, it appears that this time they’ve preferred to leave Hangouts at work (where most people actually use it) and brought out Duo as a more general service providing free worldwide video calls for anyone.