Knock knock! Google video chat app Duo calling

duo image google 2

If there is one thing we don't have enough of, it is video chatting apps.

Thankfully, Google is taking matter into their own hands. The internet giant has released a new app called Duo, designed specifically for making video calls. The app is supposed to be simple and straightforward, and since it works across platforms, you can even call your Android or iOS-wielding friends with it. So what do we know about it?

In IT Blogwatch, we say: Hello? It's me.

Google what-now? Brian Fagioli gives us the background:

Video chat should be simple, but it is not...Google is aiming to solve this...with its 'Duo' video chat app. With it, the search giant is putting a heavy focus on ease of use. 
...
If you are ready to download, you can get it...in the USA for both Android and iOS. Unfortunately, there are no desktop or web clients.

So what is the big deal about this app? Edward C. Baig fills in some of the blanks:

There’s not much setup involved: the service is phone number based so you can call anyone in your phonebook who has the app...that also means it won’t work with Android tablets or the iPad.
...
As with other video calling apps, you can mute your voice...[and] you can see what you look like to the other person...As is also standard elsewhere, you can change camera views to focus not...on your own mug but rather the environment around you.
...
A shortcut to initiating a call: you...tap on pictured circles representing contacts you recently spoke with.

How about any other features we should know about? JC Torres gives us the lowdown on Knock Knock and encryption:

Google Duo does have one peculiar feature...Google calls it "Knock Knock" and it gives the callee a live preview of the caller before picking up the call...It is both a "human" feature as well as a security one...Speaking of security, Google promises that Duo calls use end-to-end encryption, so...no one can spy on your video call. Unless they're nearby.

One attribute of Google Duo is that it is supposed to continue working even on less than perfect connections. But how does that actually play out? Here's the company line from Google on that:

We’ve built Duo to be fast and reliable, so that video calls...work well even on slower networks. Call quality adjusts to changing network conditions...when bandwidth is limited, Duo will gracefully reduce the resolution to keep the call going smoothly. For video calls on the go, Duo will switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data...without dropping your call. You can start your call at home, and continue seamlessly even when you head out the door.

But what does Google hope to accomplish with this app? The video calling space is already crowded, and Google even has their own solution with Google Hangouts. Jordan Palmer shares the reasoning:

After the long struggle of Hangouts doing everything and not really being good at anything, Google has admitted...having one app that does everything is not the best move...communicating through text and through video are very different things...knowing this fact, the company has tried to create separate apps centered around their specific mode of communication...these apps will perform their particular functions really well.

So are we all excited yet? liviaemily_6 is skeptical this will catch on:

Who is going to convince their mom, dad, brother or wife to download this?
To express your thoughts on Computerworld content, visit Computerworld's Facebook page, LinkedIn page and Twitter stream.
From CIO: 8 Free Online Courses to Grow Your Tech Skills
Shop Tech Products at Amazon
Notice to our Readers
We're now using social media to take your comments and feedback. Learn more about this here.