Duo, Google’s Consumer-Centred Video App, Starts Rolling Out

Hangouts to transition to catering to business users



Back in May at I/O 2016, Google announced two new messaging applications: Allo and Duo. The former was to focus on text chats while the latter was to take one-to-one video chats to the next level.

Starting today, Duo is rolling out to users on both Android and iOS globally.

Even though Google has announced the commencement of the global rollout through the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, not everyone can get it, yet. For instance, in my case, I can only register to be alerted when the app is available whereas users in other regions are reporting being able to install the app from the Play Store. The staggered release is not surprising, though. This is mainly done so that the huge influx of users does not overwhelm the servers.


That should not stand in the way of us giving Google’s new messaging app a spin, though. The application package is already up on APKMirror.

Google may have missed out on the mobile messaging wave and easily overtaken by Facebook which owns Messenger and WhatsApp but it is not giving up, yet. Duo is not tied to a Google account or even Google’s hated social network, Google+. One only needs a mobile phone number, as is the case with WhatsApp. Messenger already allows users to make video calls while WhatsApp has for long been testing such a feature.


Some of Duo’s notable features include Knock Knock which lets a user see a live video of whoever’s calling even before picking up their video call. Video calls made via the app are also encrypted end-to-end to ensure privacy for the users. Since video calls on mobile will definitely be affected by the quality of the network a user’s device is connected to, Duo will adjust to changing bandwidth and step down the video resolution if need be just to keep users connected. Additionally, it will also seamlessly switch between Wi-Fi and cellular networks depending on availability so that there are no (video) call drops.

Duo is a mobile-only video chat app focused on being as simple as possible, a stark contrast to existing solutions like Microsoft’s Skype. As such, Google will still be keeping its existing messaging app, Hangouts, since it works everywhere, mobile and desktop. Additionally, since Duo only allows person-to-person video calls, Hangouts will also be useful to those out to make video conference calls as it allows users to chat with more than one person at a time. Still, Google is fronting Duo as its main video app for consumers while Hangouts will be relegated to serving Google’s enterprise users as it not only offers the ability to make video calls to multiple users at a go but it is also deeply integrated into other Google products used by companies and businesses like Docs.

There’s no word on when Allo, the other messaging app that Google is launching, will start rolling out to users. You can pre-register to be alerted when Allo becomes available here.

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Emmanuel writes on mobile hardware, software and platforms.