Google To Introduce New Video Chat App


Gone are the days when email was the newest and most exciting form of quick communication. Today, many consider video chat to be the easiest way to get in touch with  someone quickly, with the added bonus of a personalized, face-to-face component.

Now, Google will be capitalizing on this trend with the introduction of their new video chat, Duo.

Duo will work with any mobile device that uses Google’s Android operating system, as well as iOS. It will rely on both Wi-Fi and cellular networks, and like other video chat applications, automatically adjust its video quality based on the quality of the connection.

Unlike its current video chat app — Hangouts — Google’s Duo won’t require its users to have a Google account in order to use it. Instead, Duo will use actual phone numbers, making the app much more convenient for users, who will be able to call any contact that’s already saved in their smartphone. This imitates the models used by WhatsApp, Messenger, Skype and FaceTime, which are owned by Google’s competitors Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, respectively.

 So if all of Google’s competitors already have successful video call and chat apps, what took Google so long to get on board?

Many tech experts associate Hangouts’ low popularity with its stipulation that you need a Google account (or ID) to use the service. Now, Google is re-purposing Hangouts, and plans to make the service more accessible alongside software including Slides, Sheets and Docs — all of which are typically used in the workplace. The hope is that Hangouts will become a service that’s used primarily in the office, with options for video conference calls through office desktops and laptops.

Duo, on the other hand, is a mobile app. Unlike Hangouts, Duo will only let users make video calls to one other individual, rather than group videos calls.

Google also plans to ensure that Duo is constantly relying on the best technology, in order to compete with its competitors’ video call services.

How will it accomplish this? Duo will always be undergoing a “bandwith estimation” that works to figure out how much video the device can actually deliver. So if a user wants to make a call in an area with poor Wi-Fi,the device will understand that it needs to switch to its cellular network. Duo will also automatically drop video if a cellular signal is as low as 2G, but maintain audio so that users can still carry on their conversation.

For more on this story, visit The Globe and Mail.

Featured image source: The Verge

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