Google has invariably taken precedence when it comes to launching technologies that make a difference. Speaking of Google’s telecommunications products specifically, the company boasts of a diverse portfolio from Google Talk to Google+ Messenger, Google Hangouts, and more. 

Today we’ll be discussing Google Duo and what makes it stand apart.

What is Google Duo?

Google Duo –  announced on May 18, 2016, at Google’s developer office – is a video chat mobile app. It’s worldwide release began on August 16, 2016. And is now available across Android and iOS platforms. You can also access it via Google Chrome on your desktop and laptop computers. 

Duo’s update

After releasing Duo worldwide, on October 5, 2016, Google announced that Google Duo will replace Hangouts within the suite of Google apps. This was sent in an email to Android phone manufacturers asking them to pre-install Duo on all devices thereby making Hangouts an optional app.

Features that matter 

Easy to use – You do not need to go through an exhaustive process of multiple steps to activate your Duo account. All you have to do is – sign up with your phone number and you can then start making calls to people in your contact list. 

There’s absolutely no technicality when it comes to the interface of the app. And the fact that Duo is based on phone numbers alone makes its usage even more safe and easy.

Here’s how it works – 

  • Download the app on your iOS or Android device. 
  • You’ll be taken to Google’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, agree to it. 
  • Decide if you want Duo to send you notifications or not and allow it to access your microphone and camera. 
  • Verify your phone number through a one-time verification code sent to you via SMS.
  • You’ll have Duo’s main interface on your screen. 
  • Go ahead and start calling! 
  • For starting a video call – Simply type the name of the contact in the search bar. Select their name. Tap ‘Video call’ and that’s it.

High-quality video calling – We have known Google Duo to serve us with high-quality video calling. That’s a big reason for the app’s popularity. Streaming at 720p, Duo makes sure to provide uninterrupted calling experiences. It is optimized for low-bandwidth mobile networks wherein your call quality largely depends on your network quality but you can anyway make calls even on low-band networks. The app can also automatically switch between Wi-Fi and cellular networks without dropping the call. 

Knock-Knock – Google says the knock-knock feature is to make calls feel more like an invitation rather than an interruption. What happens here is – through Knock Knock, you get to see a live preview of your caller even before you answer the call. This enhances the overall experience of video calling as even before you pick up the call, you get an idea about why the other person is calling. In case, you do not wish to use this feature – you can easily manage your preferences and disable it under the ‘Settings’ menu within Duo.



Security – All your calls on Duo are absolutely secure. They are, by default, secured by end-to-end encryption. That means, no one (not even Google) except the people connected to your call can know what’s going on in the call.  

Voice calls- After succeeding in providing high-quality video calls, Duo launched audio-only calls in an update in April 2017. Just like the video calls, voice calls are of extremely high-quality too. 

Group calls – Calls on Duo are no longer a two-way street. It allows 8 people to connect on a video call (on iOS and Android both). The participants of this group call can join/leave the call anytime in between the conversation. On the Duo’s main interface is a screen split into two – the top half shows what your camera sees and the bottom offers you a search bar with a ‘Create Group’ tab. Also, just like the one-on-one calls, Duo’s group calls too are secured by end-to-end encryption. 

Free to use – That’s the best part, isn’t it? We get to access the benefits of high definition video and voice calls – all for free. All you need is a stable internet connection, and Google Duo won’t fail to impress you. 

Low light mode- Duo’s has recently added a low light mode which makes you more visible to the other people on the call if you are in low-lit surroundings. So, you do not need to change your surroundings and search for the perfectly lit spot for your video calls. The duo will adjust things for you. You can also manage your preferences and disable this feature – if you want – under the Settings option. 

Fast and reliable – Hear what Google has to say about this – “We’ve built Duo to be fast and reliable so that video calls connect quickly and work well even on slower networks.”

So, you know you don’t have to bother about limited bandwidth and slow connections to use Duo. Also, you can continue your calls seamlessly irrespective of your Wi-fi location – Duo can automatically switch from Wi-fi to cellular data. 

  • Video messages – There’s another exciting feature in Duo’s portfolio – video and voice messages. If you’re using Google Duo and you don’t have time to call or the person on the other end can’t pick up, you can simply leave a video/voice message to state your reason/your urgency or simply ask them to call back. Not only this, you can personalize your video message with emoticons or texts or even use a brush to draw. 
  • Manage preferences – Google Duo serves you with options to personalize your app as per your preferences. You own the ability to disable the knock-knock and low-light mode. With this, you can also limit how much mobile data you use on the app, set vibration mode along with the general mode (Android only), block unwanted contacts, add Google Accounts, unregister your number, and do more. 

Go to the Settings option on the app to manage your preferences. 

Wrapping up – Google Duo is nothing short of a boon. It truly makes our lives easier just like so many other Google Products. 

Hear what Google has to say about their app – 

With Google Duo –

  1. Be together at the moment.
  2. Face to face, with up to 8 people.
  3. Connect with your closest friends and family.
  4. See what’s up before you answer.
  5. Never miss a moment – through a video message.
  6. Your calls stay private with end-to-end encryption.

Updated : May 6, 2021


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