Google Duo to take over Facetime, Skype?

Popularly described as Google’s response to Apple’s Facetime and Microsoft’s Skype, Google Duo is a new and simple one-to-one video calling app for everyone. Officially released on August 18, 2016 by Google, owned by Alphabet Inc, is not yet available for installation in some countries. It is specifically designed for mobile phones. Google Duo can be accessed on android as well as iOS smartphones.

I tried installing Google Duo on my android device in India today; it asked me to Pre-Register. Pre-Register; as it would notify me when the app would be available in my Play store for download. I tried searching for Google Duo in the App store on my iPhone; couldn’t find it. This means we would have to wait for some more time, before the app debuts in our region. So, in the meantime, let’s explore why did Google develop a video calling app in an already crowded market, full of video-calling feature providers like Facetime, skype, facebook messenger, and its very own Hangouts.

Google claims that the simple user interface would compel the user to prefer Duo. This is because the user has to simply scroll through his contacts to see who has the app, click and finally connect. There is no need to create an account or maintain a friend list. In short, Google duo is devoid of complications as offered by its competitors.

One feature which completely sets Google Duo apart from the other apps is Knock-Knock. With the help of Knock-Knock, the users can preview incoming video calls from everyone in their contacts, even before picking up the call.  Duo gives its users the option to turn the feature off entirely if they don’t like it. However, the Knock-Knock feature is not available on iOS. This is because of the restrictions imposed by Apple on the third-party applications from accessing the lock screen. So, a notification shows when the user is getting an incoming video call. This might act as a barrier between choosing to install and not to install Duo, as this feature is the most important selling point of Google Duo.

Since this platform has been specifically developed for mobile phone users, Google Duo is said to provide video-calling experience even in areas of poor network connectivity. The High definition, great video and audio would be available in a great quality Wi-Fi or LTE network. With a fall in network, the call would degrade to a standard quality and eventually deteriorate to an audio only, in a network that cannot support video.

It is even able to maintain the call when the user switches from Wi-Fi network to cellular data.

Many might argue about the basis of introducing another similar app when Hangouts already exists. As per Google’s plans, Hangouts would continue to exist for everybody, but its major focus would be to serve enterprise users, with a possible increased future integration with Google Apps suite.

Within a few days, the worldwide roll-out would get completed and responses from around the globe will start pouring in. It would then become clear if Google’s idea to leverage on its high user base succeeds or not. In the end, I would say that Google has given mobile users a dedicated one-to-one video calling app, at an expense of, nothing but of the device itself!

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