Google Duo the Apple FaceTime nemesis is here

A new video chat application is here and it is going to cater to both iPhones and Android smartphones. Google Duo is the latest release from Google aimed at providing a high-quality mobile video-chatting experience to consumers. Although the application is available on both iOS and Android, Google’s goal is clearly to give Android users a FaceTime-like experience. According to Nick Fox, Google’s Vice President of Communications Services, Google had three priorities when it crafted what it sees as the perfect application for one-to-one videoconferencing: simplicity, speed and “human” features.

Google Duo lets users initiate one-on-one video call with another person via their phone numbers. However, the application will not connect with any other existing products like the Google Chat, Hangouts, Spaces or even the upcoming messaging application called the Allo. It is just another addition to the existing line of Google applications. It is also expected that the Google Hangouts will now be more of a business-oriented application to manage all the work and Google Duo is going to be more of a consumer-oriented application for day-to-day use.

Nick Fox expressed that Google designed Duo to work across a variety of network connections. The application is built to provide HD video when on good networks and to gracefully and seamless adjust quality if things get worse. You can even drop down to a 2G connection and have video pause but have the audio continue. The application is built on WebRTC, a video standard Google helped create that’s known for its stability. “We’re always prioritizing audio to make sure that you don’t drop communications entirely,” he said.

Among video calling applications, Google Duo is unique for its ability to send video from the caller even before the call is answered, a feature Google calls “Knock Knock.” The moment you initiate the call, the recipient will see the view from your front-facing camera. Fox says this feature encourages callers to use gesturing and facial expressions to get the recipient’s attention.

We forced ourselves to think exclusively about the phone and design for the phone,” said Fox. “The desktop experience is something we may build over time. But if you look around the world at the billions of people that are connected to the Internet, the vast majority have one device, and that device is a phone. So it was critical for us to really nail that use case.”

Duo is very designed to be absolutely simple and minimalistic. It is also made to be tied to the saved contacts in your phone and not to your Google contacts. You can breathe easy for privacy as only saved contacts will show up with the “Knock Knock” feature and not with unknown callers. Google Duo is one of the two applications that were announced by Google during their I/O conference that was held in May this year. The other application is Allo, an instant text-messaging based communication application which features deep usage of Google’s intelligent Assistant Bot.

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