allo duo new

Allo and Duo, Google’s new chat and video calling apps have been some of the most anticipated apps from Google since Inbox launched almost two years ago. Unfortunately, for me, they have fallen far short of my hopes and dreams for the services, and Allo isn’t even out.

The promise of Duo was a simple video chat app that was universally available across platforms – it turns out it’s only across Android and iOS, not very cross platform – and would let users signup with nothing more than a phone number (i.e. no Google account needed) was a great idea. Google delivered Duo this month and did indeed deliver a clean easy to use simple video chat app that offers excellent video and call quality.

What it didn’t deliver however is multi-device support or any web/ desktop client. Duo is a single device service, you get just one device per phone number, that’s it. In the world of ubiquitous cloud computing, I am stunned and amazed at this. Google is at the very forefront of multi-device cross-platform services and yet their latest chat app to launch them into messaging success lacks basic cloud features.

One of the major boasting points of this cloud work is multi-device support, you can have the same data and service on your, phone, tablet, desktop, and even watch for some things. Imagine my disappointment when I found out that by activating Duo on a second device my first device was now deauthorised (something there was no prompt for/ warning about by the way) if you can’t imagine it think Old Yeller.

There are those that say this is to keep it simple, that for people who only use their phone this makes sense, it keeps it simple. To this I say poppycock. If you only want to use one device you’re only going to install it once, I dismiss this opinion. I also refuse to accept the argument that there were “technical reasons” for this decision. I use Telegram,  which authenticates via text message if you want, and I can install that on almost any device on the planet, so if Telegram, WhatsApp, line etc can do it you know Google can.

I see this as a failure to deliver a service that meets the needs of even novice consumers”, When I told my wife it would only work on her phone and not the tablet or PC she said “nope that’s stupid, I’ll stick with Hangouts”, my wife is not a techie in any way.. For an average consumer to not want to use the product because it is locked into a single device supports my claims that Google has missed the target with this approach.

I’m not a big user of video calling so I’m not too devastated by this, I may not need counselling to get over it. However, like most of you I use messaging services ALOT. I would dearly love to be able to use Allo as my primary messaging service. However, if recent rumours are correct then Allo will also be a single device service. This makes Allo and its marvelous Google Assistant features unusable for me.

My message workflow is finely tuned, I’ve got my phone for when I’m out and about or not near another device, I’ve got my PCs for when I’m in my home or work office, a tablet or Chromebook for the lounge and a tablet in the bedroom. On a typical day, I will access Telegram and Hangouts (my primary chat apps) on 5 different devices, at a minimum. If I used Allo I’d be re-authenticating all day long, of course, they don’t offer a web interface so that would remove those authentications, unfortunately, as my phones on silent, I’ll just be missing those messages.

Does it really matter?  I suppose not, I can continue to use Hangouts and Telegram (or any number of competing services) for my cross-platform, multi-device messaging and video chat needs. What I want to know is how Google, a company building the next wave of cloud infrastructure, got this so wrong? Making it simple doesn’t mean removing advanced features, or it shouldn’t

Having a simple service that anyone can sign into and use simply is great, I applaud them for that, but why remove the option for more advanced features? Yes, it is release month for Duo, and Allo isn’t even out, so these features could come. However, I maintain that to launch these services today without them is a complete miss.

What do you think of these services launching as single device mobile only apps? let us know below.

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So, I have actually tried Duo… as others have noted, the quality and switching between mobile and wifi is excellent. So, the mobile number/multi-device thing… let’s be absolutely honest here. For normal mortals, Hangouts is a drag. Convince me that your mum/wife/sibling/in-law is using Hangouts (unless they’re in IT). Please do. More so if they are on iOS. Duo stands at least some chance of actually being accepted across mobile operating systems and your family/friend circles. And the reality is that you really, really only care about video chat on your primary device… if not yours then your friends. Second,… Read more »

Michael Wang

“it turns out it’s only across Android and iOS, not very cross platform”

Cute, what more do you need? WP?


Windows, Mac OS, web, all viable platforms, I’m sure others would like WP but with less that 1% market share Ill give Google a pass on that!

Max Luong

Off the top of my head:
* Android (wifi only)
* Linux
* ChromeOS
* MacOS
* Windows

I would’ve loved to have been able to use Duo for when I video chat to my children due to the simpler interface and superiour video quality, but their Nexus 7s can’t run it.

Crabou Chacha

lol, the guy killed me there too..
–>> In 2016 Q1, more than a billion smartphones were sold and global market share was 84.1% for Android, 14.8% for iOS, 0.7% for Windows Phone, 0.2% for Blackberry and remaining 0.2% for all other platforms.

so basically, duo and allo with 98.9% reachability arent very cross platform.. like wtf,..
fb, instagram, snapchat arent on wp either, just saying…

as for the web, pretty sure the feature will be coming, à la whatsapp..

Daniel Gray

No PC app then no use to me. Facebook messenger is on all platforms and seems to be the non IOS favourite for me. If Google doesn’t start supporting windows store apps then I will not use their services. Support my laptop and tablet or I won’t use your service on my phone.


I tried a Duo call with the wife today. I was on mobile data, she was on WiFi for about 10 minutes. The video was the best quality I’ve ever seen for a video chat. It looked like about 480p so not hi res but super smooth with no dropped frames. Every movement looked natural, voice was in sync and colours were natural. No noticeable artifacting. Obviously 480p or whatever it was looked a little soft on our 1440p displays but it was fine for chatting. By comparison, Hangouts video chat quality has always been awful. So bad that I’d… Read more »


absolutely agree, using Duo is simple and elegant, and the quality is great, it’s just a shame they chose to lock it to one device.


Yes, agreed, I wonder if that will change over time. Well have to wait and see.


If they do that’s my issue resolved, give me mufti mobile device I’m 60% happy, add web support for Allo as well I’m 100% happy (maybe 🙂 )

Jarryd Howard

Never used it as Hangouts and what’s app are my places to go to talk

Reuben Fergusson

I think you have missed the point! I have family in a 3rd world country with bad network speeds. Google have learned from the bloat that is Hangouts (which has pretty bad video calling) and stripped back a service to something that is spectacular on all networks. It just works, it always connects and I have not had a single call drop. There is so much more going on to do multi device support than you think. That’s why hangouts calls don’t always ring on the device you think they should and whatsapp/telegram doesn’t do video calling.


Well I certainly like duo, its just that basically no-one I know likes videochat/calling. Though maybe with its simplicity more people I know will get more into it. Though I kind of think it should be integrated into the dialer.

As for allo…I expect it will be my chat client of choice, but then it currently is hangouts.

Phill Edwards

Whatsapp is tied to your phone. And while I believe there are ways to get it to work in a browser on another device, it’s all too many hoops to jump though. So Google aren’t alone here.


Whilst I agree that Duo suffers from “Googlecockupiitus”, I think the basis for it, WebRTC, is better than the proprietary solutions around. It would have been sensible to have integrated Duo with an improved Dialler (available to all), but also made it open and easy for others to create compatible solutions for (inc desktop apps, Chromecast, etc.)

No idea if Allo will be any better for text communication that the alternatives, but here again, going back to a Jabber basis would help a lot.


Telegram isn’t encrypted end to end by default. Not a fair comparison.

Desktop client comment is fair though.


From memory Brin allo’s end to end encryption is An optional mode, like incognito, you can’t have assistant in a chat and just like Facebook s implement you opt for end to end encryption that message stream is device to device only, that sounds like choice to me.

If you mean the video each stream can be encrypted but accepted on any device.

Thoughts? Your the guru of this stuff.


Allo =/= Duo. Duo is end to end encrypted by default.

Allo is literally no more secure than Hangouts by default and less secure than WhatsApp.

Storing key material on multiple devices without uploading online is a hard problem, but you can’t bash Google for implementing E2E calls which in turn can’t share the key. (Although technically in Duo’s case you could generate a new key pair with each call)..


to be honest Brin, I’d be happy with just Allo having web support, Duo would be nice however. But npot having Duo on all my mobile devices is still a non starter for me, make secure chatting an option, I don’t care to have end to end encryption by default.

Gregory Eden

If Allo only works on one device and it does not do video then all it is is SMS over the Internet. I get unlimited SMS so it would have to have a lot more than that. All they need to do is remove invitations from Hangouts so you can send to anyone with a Google account and it would be simple. Like Facebook Messenger.

Jamie S

Great article Duncan. As your wife said, it’s stupid. I don’t care that the app has only been out for a week, this is Google not some new developer releasing their first app. Sure, more functionality may come with future updates but the fact you can’t use it on multiple devices ie phone and tablet at least is just ridiculous. Look at Spaces for example, what a disaster. Maybe Google need to freshen up the App development department with some new young people who know what people want. *Rant over*


It’s funny, reviewing Duncan’s post before it went out, my mind went to Spaces too. I think it’s possible to under promise and over deliver, and in fact, sometimes that’s admirable, but when its a case of under promise and deliver exactly to that specification… I think we’re right to be a bit disappointed. I don’t mind the lack of cross-platform so much (iOS and Android covers most), but the single device thing is a bit odd. Other apps that tie to a telephone number can work on more than one device, and in the case of Duo, that might… Read more »


I haven’t even bothered install Duo and doubt I’ll even install Allo either. Hangouts does a lot more in better ways than either app, and like you said can be used across a number of devices. If I ever video call it’s always with more than 1 other person.


It’s a very bad article. Which messaging app have multiple devices and cross platform on day 1 the release? And duo just released no more than one week? Why people have so much complaints about that? I really don’t like those people’s attitudes. Hopefully you will never reinstall the app on your device in the future.

I personally very like duo and wait for allo release.

Damon Lewis

I’m pretty sure Hangouts works on multiple devices and on desktop from day 1.


That’s not the point though. It’s not ‘which messaging apps had cross platform support on day 1’, but rather ‘today in 2016, there are a multitude of apps that offer cross-platform support on multiple devices and operating systems, why doesn’t Google’s newest product offer the same? Why can’t it do what others already can and have been doing for a while now?’ I don’t give a crap that this is a new release less than one week old. I’m a consumer weighing up my options for video chatting and Duo can’t come close to the competitors that are already on… Read more »


Also don’t forget how slow Google is to update or add features to their apps. Hangouts has felt like it’s been behind the competition it’s whole life.