Google Duo was first announced back at I/O 2016, and it was met with much fanfare. People called it the potential FaceTime killer, as it allowed for video chatting across platforms with some unique features. Well, Duo officially launched earlier this morning, and these are my first impressions of it.
Duo’s obvious competitor is FaceTime, after all, Apple’s video calling services integrates directly in with your phone number but is only available for iOS. Google aims to fix this big pain point by offering Duo as a free service for both iOS and Android. This means an Android can Duo call an iOS user and vice versa. During the setup for the application, it does need you to register a phone number as well.
The setup is not much more than entering your number and confirming it with a verification code that is SMS-messaged to you. From there you are presented with a view from your front-facing camera, and if you pull up from the bottom, you can make a video call. Contacts who have set up Duo will appear, and you can invite any contact to join who has not.
Call quality was pretty good, but Knock-Knock took a while to get used too. This is, of course, the feature that shows the person you’re calling a feed of the incoming video before he or she picks it up. It is a neat idea, but I’m not sure how many real world scenarios this would come in handy for. You can turn off this feature if you don’t want it on, though.
The interface is simple enough and is comparable to FaceTime. The big question is will iPhone users buy into a Google service like Duo. And will Android users who have made do without a FaceTime equivalent, for now, begin to use Duo. I should note that Duo does not integrate with Google Hangouts as of yet, but I am hoping this arrives soon.