Update 08/17/16: Duo is now available to download on both iOS and Android.
Google has released Duo, the cross-platform video calling app it revealed during I/O 2016, the tech giant’s annual developer’s conference.
The app offers up a basic video calling experience, but is compatible across iOS and Android, allowing users of mobile’s two most popular operating systems to communicate with one another via simplified Facetime/Skype-like calls.
Unfortunately, Duo does not connect with Google’s other popular apps like Google Chat, Hangouts, Spaces or even Google’s upcoming messaging platform Allo. This means that users will have to create their contact list from scratch with Duo.
It’s also worth noting that, according to reports, Duo’s marquee ‘knock knock’ feature, shown off at I/O, doesn’t work in the iOS version of the video calling app.
In the Android version of Duo with Knock Knock enabled, when a contact calls via Duo, you’re able to view a live video preview of that individual before answering. This feature doesn’t work on iOS because Apple does not allow third-party developers access to the iPhone’s lockscreen.
The app’s user interface is reportedly barren, though that seems to be the company’s intention; creating a simplified video calling app without fancy features. Duo does, however, make Google’s already muddled messaging app ecosystem even more confusing, with its various chat apps operating independently of each other. Additionally, since users have to start using the platform from scratch, some people may be more inclined to continue using more established chat services like Skype or Facetime instead.
With the launch of Duo, it seems Google is pivoting Hangouts to be more focused on enterprise services. While Hangouts was once one of the best messaging platforms roughly five to six years ago, it’s been eclipsed by countless other services, including Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Messenger. In many ways, Google launching Duo this late in the video chat game is the tech giant playing catch up.
Duo will soon be available globally on iOS and Android for free. We’ve confirmed with Google Canada that the iOS and Android version of the app is currently rolling out across Canada.
While nothing has been confirmed yet, it’s likely that Allo, Google’s new messaging app, will launch in the near future as well.