Unless you’ve been living under the rock or under the spell of Rio 2016 Olympic for the last couple of days, you should know there’s an awesome app launched by Google. Meet “Google Duo”, a simple 1-to-1 video calling app for everyone – Android or iPhone. What, another boring video calling app?
First, there was voice call followed by text/SMS and thanks to smartphone, now you can basically make free voice call and free messaging over the internet. Not satisfied with free voice and text, netizens have been demanding for free “video call”. The answer: Facetime, Skype, KakaoTalk, Hangouts, Tango, WeChat, LINE, Viber, ooVoo, Facebook Messenger and the list goes on.
While it’s nice to have free voice, text and video apps, not every country allows such freebies for obvious reason. For example, we know for a fact that the most modern city in the Middle East – Dubai – doesn’t allow incoming voice calls, let alone video calls, from apps such as WhatsApp, Viber, and Tango. The only voice and video call allowable into the kingdom is Skype.
However, the quality of video call using Skype was so horrible that U.A.E. might as well block the services. Even in other countries which allow video calls such as Apple Facetime, the quality is still bad. You need an excellent bandwidth between two parties for an acceptable Facetime quality. But how many countries offer such bandwidth at affordable price?
In a chicken-and-egg kind of situation, what is your priority? Do you want the freedom to make video calls but the quality is so bad it doesn’t make any difference whether such service is available or not? Or do you want a fantastic video call quality which can run smoothly even on bandwidth as low as 512-kbps?
Enter Google Duo, the latest video call app on the block which works marvellously not only on low bandwidth but also a product which works across platform – both Apple iOS and Android. Essentially, Google Duo is the answer to Apple’s Facetime but unlike the proprietary Apple product which works only on iOS, Google Duo doesn’t care.
Some claim Google Hangouts is much better but in reality, the video quality of Google Duo is spectacularly better than Hangouts. The reason why Google Duo is perhaps the best video call app presently is the fact that it was built with “simplicity and speed” in mind. And it was designed to do one thing only – to make video call and nothing else.
Heck, it’s so simple that even your grandma can install and use it without breaking a sweat. To get started, all you need is to install the app, launch it, provide your phone number and a confirmation code (text) will be sent to you. From there, you can instantly begin a video call with a single tap. Duo will switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data automatically without dropping your call.
Google was so freaking serious about making Duo a simple and speedy app that it doesn’t allow it to do voice-call-only, let alone a group video call. Perhaps Google should bundle both voice-call and video-call options because not everybody fancy video-calls all the time. And we can pretty much guess what users want next – messaging platform like WhatsApp or WeChat on top of Google Duo.
Google said voice-only calls would be the next coming feature though. But getting too demanding is precisely the problem here. As more bells and whistles are being built and added into Google Duo, it will make the whole app more complicated, less elegant hence introduce performance issue. That’s precisely what happens to Skype today.
There’s also a cool feature – “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. If you don’t like it, you can “disable” this feature. However, the “Knock Knock’ only works on Android devices, although the capability is built into iOS 10. Upon Apple’s approval, such feature could be added to iPhone soon.
More importantly, Google Duo’s video-calls are end-to-end encrypted, unlike Facebook Messenger. Is Google trying to replace Hangouts with Duo? Not at all. Hangouts will continue to exist with primary mission serving enterprise users. Duo is to serve consumers or to be precise – to “knock down” Apple Facetime.
We have tried Duo on a U.A.E (Dubai) number and the video chat works flawlessly. Comparing to Skype (which also works in U.A.E.), there’s little doubt that Google Duo is the ultimate video-call app you must have. It’s unclear, however, if U.A.E., or other Middle East kingdoms for that matter, is working to block this awesome app.
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