Google Just Launched Duo, an All-New Video Calling App

Google's Duo video calling app is rolling out today

But video calling has become a table stakes kind of feature and what Google is promising when the company starts rolling out Duo to the app stores on Tuesday morning is speed, simplicity, security and the ability to work across all sorts of network connections.

Google's other video calling app (and instant messaging app), Google Hangouts, isn't going away.

There's one caveat, though, and it's a big one: The person you're calling will also need to have the Duo app installed in order for anything to happen.

More importantly, Duo has a feature called Knock Knock, "which lets you see live video of your caller before you answer, giving you a sense of what they're up to and why they want to chat".

Finally, Google said that all calls feature end-to-end encryption, so you should be safe from prying eyes.

Rather than requiring users to sign up for, or sign in to, a Google account, the app requires just a phone number to operate. Meaning you can now have a secure chat with those on an iPhone who typically use iMessage, and Facetime or Google Hangouts and Skype can be replaced by Duo.

The app was made available in the US early Tuesday morning, and was expected to roll out in Canada later in the day. It supports one-to-one video calling and group video calling, along with video overlays and effects. These apps are called Allo and Duo.

Duo isn't available to Android users in the United Kingdom as yet but will be in the coming days.

Google announced a conversation-based tool - Google Assistant - to control smartphones, smartwatches and other devices earlier this year. Google calls this feature, "Knock, knock".

One reason why Google decided to make two different communication apps rather one unified app is due to past failures trying to do so. All users can disable Knock Knock at any time.

"Video calling is the next best thing to being with someone in person, but too often it can be a frustrating or complicated experience", principal software engineer Justin Uberti wrote yesterday on Google's official blog.

Google had announced the coming launch of the app three months ago at its I/O developer conference, part of a set of apps to be released.

"What we don't really need is another discrete video-call app - we need universal video calling", said Jude. According to Google, Duo is created to make its end-to-end encrypted video calls "fast and reliable" even on slower networks.

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