Beware Skype, Google launches mobile video-calling app Duo

16 Aug 2016

Google has just released Duo, a new video-calling app that’s mobile-only, very fast and set to compete with a rather dominant Skype.

Google Duo is out in the US as of today (16 August), with a global roll-out “in the next few days” as the convergence of services between rivals continues.

Basic in its premise, Duo’s simplicity appears to be its key – the might of Google behind the project is helpful, too.

It doesn’t have group-calling features, nor has it any plans to release a desktop app, but in Duo’s favour is its lack of registration. Working off your mobile contacts – or Google contacts – it is built to be set up very easily.

Google Duo

“For video calls on the go, Duo will switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data automatically without dropping your call,” said Justin Uberti, principal software engineer on the project.

“You can start your call at home, and continue seamlessly even when you head out the door.”

Google Duo

One of the more interesting aspects to Duo is its incoming call tool, taking ‘incoming call’ or ‘Ben is calling’ to a different level.

Bidding to make incoming calls “feel more like an invitation rather than an interruption”, the Knock Knock feature lets you see live video of your caller before you answer.

So if they’re partying, crying, showing off a litter of puppy St Bernards or merely scared of the pipes rattling in the middle of the night, you get a sneak peak before you choose if you want to answer or not.

Google Duo

With the release gradual, you can check if your region has received Duo here on Android or iOS.

While Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter compete for image-sharing dominance in one area of converging ideas, Google – which already sported Hangouts in this field – has joined Skype and even Slack in the video-call area.

Slack has moved its voice chat capabilities from invite-only to open, with aims of taking on Skype, Google Hangouts and subsequently Duo.

In a blog post on Medium, the company said that, having previously tested the system through an invite-only system, any user can now make one-on-one calls through Slack, or, if you’ve paid for the premium version, groups can also engage in conference calls.

Main video call image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic