comscore Google Duo first impressions: A no-frills video calling app that needs performance improvement
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Google Duo first impressions: A no-frills video calling app that needs performance improvement

Google’s Duo takes on Microsoft’s Skype and Apple’s FaceTime by offering a simplified video calling experience. We gave the app a try and here are our first impressions.

google-duo-launch

Google’s Duo one-to-one video calling app is finally live in India for both Android and iOS users. The video calling app from Google takes on Microsoft s Skype and Apple s FaceTime both of which are widely popular among users. We downloaded the app on our Android smartphone and after spending some time, here s our hands-on and first impressions. Also Read - PUBG New State receives over 17 million pre-registrations as closed alpha testing ends

Google Duo setup and interface

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To setup Google Duo video calling app, you will need to enter your phone number on the start screen. Once registered, all your contacts will be pulled up automatically. After that, you ll be taken to the app interface, which is pretty minimal. The front-facing camera gets instantly activated, and it occupies approximately 70 percent of the screen. Also Read - Honor phones to come with Google Mobile Services: Report

At the bottom bar, you have the video call button, which also shows the recently contacted users. On the top right corner, you have three dots to access the Settings menu and Help and Support. Under settings menu, you get the option to toggle vibrate and ringing, limit mobile data usage, unregister your phone number and access blocked numbers.

google duo interface

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Google has also introduced a Knock Knock feature which you can toggle on or off. The feature lets you peek into the caller s camera even before you accept the call. However, the feature only works with users that are in your contact list.

google duo calling interface

Once the call gets through and the recipient accepts it, you can see their face primarily on the screen, with a small circle on the bottom right with your camera feed. The call end button is also present in the center. You can also tap on the screen to bring up options to turn on the speaker phone / Bluetooth, switch-camera (front or rear) and mute the call. You can even switch the screen, with your camera feed on the front and the recipient s at the bottom left corner.

Google Duo features

After trying out the app, we think Google has finally upped its game by launching a worthy competitor to Skype and FaceTime. One major advantage of Duo over FaceTime is that it works cross-platform, letting users contact people, irrespective of whether they use Android or iOS smartphone. While features such as conference calls and instant messaging are missing at the moment, Google s idea seems to keep things pretty simple.

With spotty network coverage a major issue, especially in India, Google has you covered. The app keeps checking for network quality and tweaks the video resolution according to ensure interrupted communication. Google has also stressed on privacy and security, and it has already mentioned that all your calls are end-to-end encrypted.

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Google Duo performance

We tired placing a few calls both when connected to a Wi-Fi network and while on 3G. During the very first attempt, the app crashed after the recipient answered the call. But this is something that could be expected, considering this is the very first public version, and stability improvements could come in the future updates.

In the second attempt, the call got connected and we were able to talk for a stretch of seven to eight minutes without any issues. However, the video quality kept on going from average to medium. Also, the video stream could just freeze for a few seconds and then return. The audio quality, however, was pretty good, and we could clearly hear what the recipient was talking. However, Google still needs to fine tune the app to offer optimal performance.

We still have to put the Duo app through some testing on daily basis to see how it performs when on 2G networks and also look at the amount of data each call consumes.

Final thoughts

After hardly an hour of usage, we could say that Google s Duo app has a great potential going forward. It s not heavy as Skype, and does not have platform based restrictions as FaceTime. Having used to making Skype and Hangouts calls, Duo did seem better and effortless. Overall, we re impressed with Duo and looking forward for further updates that could bring bug fixes and performance improvements. It remains to be seen how Duo fares in the long run. One of the challenges that we forsee is to convince people to download a new app that does the same thing as an existing app. However, things could change if Google makes it a part of the Google Mobile Suite that comes pre-installed on every Google approved Android smartphone.

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  • Published Date: August 17, 2016 6:00 PM IST
  • Updated Date: August 17, 2016 6:03 PM IST



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