Google has launched a new video calling app, designed to seduce both Android and iOS uses. Duo, which allows users to utilise their phone number to generate video calls, is designed as a minimalistic alternative to FaceTime.
The app is an interesting and somewhat bold approach to video calling, in fact, it’s incredibly simple – something that Google VP of product management Nick Fox, says was their priority. Conceptually, Duo will prioritise the face to face communication itself over clever interactions – in fact, Dup doesn’t even form part of the Google suite – and can’t talk to Google Chat, Hangouts, or the Android SMS app. “It’s the human element,” says Fox. “You don’t hear Google talk about this all that often but we wanted to enable the human on the other end of the video call to be the experience.”
Simplicity and the human element are prevalent throughout the app, to the point where you don’t even need a Google account to use it. You download the app, make the call and the entire screen is dedicated to the person on the other end. Even off call, there is a list of calls made, contacts regularly used and a names tab. Other than that, it’s high-quality video without branding, cartoons or clever ways to make yourself look stupid by putting a penguin on your head or giving yourself a big tongue.
Duo has already been brutalised by tech channels such as TechCrunch for lacking innovation and coming in too late to the game. But the strength of Duo is in it’s focus on the quality of call over clever innovation. In fact, any ideas have been well hidden by Google, such as the ability for the app to reduce video quality or turn the screen off entirely if there is a poor connection. It can also switch between mobile and Wi-Fi without a reduction in call quality or dropping off.
There’s no doubt, Duo is nowhere near as clever as other video messaging platforms, but it gets to the point of the platform itself – two people communicating face-to-face. Google has taken out anything that is unnecessary and built something beautiful in it’s minimalism.