Alphabet Inc ‘s Google wants to challenge Facetime, Skype, and Snapchats in the video calls market with the launch of a new app called Google Duo. The social messaging space is crowded with hundreds of apps and there’s no shortage of apps for making video calls. Apple has its own FaceTime, Microsoft ‘s Skype is holding the fort, there’s Facebook’s Messenger, Snapchat, and Google also has Hangouts in the fray.
Duo is the latest attempt by Google to break into the social scene after multiple failed attempts to have a vibrant social side. Hangouts has not been able to get a foothold outside of desktop and even then, it is mostly used in work settings. Google+ is practically dead and the firm is only making half-hearted attempts to keep it alive. Perhaps, Duo could help Alphabet build a vibrant social side.
Meet Google’s new video call app
Duo is an ultra-simplified video calling app designed to work on both Android and iOS on smartphones. All you need is a smartphone and a phone number and you can sign up in a few steps. Duo doesn’t require you to set up a new account and once installed, you can start connecting with people on your contact list.
Duo is also designed with a focus on simplicity. You can’t use it to make conference calls, it doesn’t have filters, text overlay, and you don’t need to worry about maintaining friend lists. Duo also has an interesting social feature “Knock Knock” that sets it apart from other video calling apps. Knock Knock allows video calls to look more like an invite and less of a distraction because you can actually see a live video of the person calling you (and the faces they are making) before you actually pickup the call.
Nick Fox, VP of communications at Alphabet Inc ‘s Google observed that the mobile-only approach to Duo and its simplicity was a deliberate effort. In his words, “being laser-focused on mobile… enables us to just make sure that we were doing a great, wonderful job on that case. … For us, we thought ‘amazing on mobile, nothing on desktop’ was the better approach.”
Can Duo succeed where Hangouts has failed?
Alphabet Inc ‘ Google has an infamous reputation for creating half-baked or outrightly confusing and muddled up social media products. However, it appears that the firm is setting up Duo to succeed where Hangouts has failed. To start with, Duo will handle video calls while a soon to be released smarter text-messaging app called Allo will handle text chats. In essence, Google is trying to adopt the same strategy that led to the unbundling of Drive to create Doc and Sheets – now, it wants to unbundle Hangouts to create Duo and Allo.
It is still a little too early to predict how Duo will fare in the mobile space. However, the new strategy that the firm wants to adopt for communication apps seems like a smarter solution than trying to fix Hangouts. Nonetheless, Fox has revealed that the firm won’t retire Hangouts but that “it will increasingly be more integrated with Google Apps suite.” In essence, consumers can expect to make video calls with Duo going forward while Enterprise users will have to learn to make do with Hangouts.