Google Duo
Google announced they were releasing a new video chat – Duo – at Google I/O this year, they released it this month and it’s quite frankly taking a lot of flack – but I love it.

Google announced two products at Google: Duo and Allo. Duo is a one-to-one video messaging client for mobile. Note they never announced that it would be available on desktop OSs, or even that it would be multi-device. Allo is a messaging app and it isn’t even out yet, so let’s look at Duo.

To use Duo it’s as simple as possible, it’s tied to your phone number instead of a Gmail account and within 2-3 taps I can either initiate a call with someone who is using Duo or send an invite via SMS to someone who isn’t.

It’s a small app – around 8MB in size – so downloading it isn’t an overly large burden on your data plan.

Duo video calls work really well too, it’s designed to work on a pretty crappy network connection meaning if you’re Google or any of the other ‘big’ tech companies your eye is on the next 5 billion customers – places where network infrastructure isn’t great. It’s these users where the aim of Duo is very likely Google is pointing their app squarely at.

Most of the people in emerging markets also don’t actually have that many devices. In fact most of them are lucky to have a mobile phone, let alone a Gmail account. Capturing mindshare from users with products like Duo for down the track when people in these markets are buying bigger and more devices and using more services is a big motivating factor.

The simplicity of Duo is also a big factor. If you’re not a big user of technology – like people in these emerging markets – then simple is best. That’s what the key is here. Hand Duo to someone you know who isn’t technical and tell them to initiate a call – I bet they can do it. Hand them something more complex and feature rich like Hangouts and they might get there, if they’re lucky.

Duo is available on the two largest mobile platforms around – iOS and Android – that covers around 98% of the mobile market.

It’s pertinent to remember that Google is a mobile first company now. In the founders letter released this year, Sundar Pichai said when talking about the future ‘We will move from mobile first to an AI first world.’ They’re mobile first currently, they’ve transitioned.

The very low cost of an Android phone that can run and use Duo is the main reason for developing a product like Duo.

I’ve been using Duo a lot since it launched, I can talk to my son and wife in the morning when I’ve gone to work long before the sun rises. I can call my wife at work when I pick up my son from school on my days off. It’s quick and simple and that’s all it needs to be.

Where is the hate for Duo coming from? Simple: Hangouts is crap.

Hangouts is Google’s feature rich, cross platform messaging system and for the most part I abandoned it a year or two ago. It’s slow, has terrible options and is missing major features like even basic search for conversations.

People want a great, cross platform messaging system and quite frankly I want Google to provide it. I want the features they promised with Allo and Duo incorporated into Hangouts, and all the rest of the features of Hangouts to work right. In short I want them to fix their shit .

Google has already said that Hangouts isn’t going anywhere, so there’s more coming on that front – when? I have no idea but I hope it’s soon.

It’s the current state of Hangouts that really sings to me when hearing people talking about Duo (and Allo, but remember it isn’t out yet). We want all the features and they’re not here.

It’s important to remember this one thing: Allo and Duo aren’t Hangouts and they’re not meant to be – they’re something new and maybe you should give them a chance before you dump them.

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    Agreed – I would have much preferred a fixed/cleaned Hangouts with SMS/Hangout merging. I’ve got all my family, my wifes family and friends onto Hangouts and now they start taking features away…


    I think Duo is fantastic. I also use it to contact family. I love when going thru black spots I can still chat. I’ll end up with a still picture at times but the voice call doesn’t drop out in places where a phone call drops out! How does Duo do that? I still use Hangouts. I know it’s frustratingly slow to push messages sometimes but it is so feature rich that family and friends still use it. The fact that you can share almost any media over Hangouts is the main reason. Whether it’s gifs, pictures or videos, it… Read more »


    I’m just really confused as to what’s going on with the state of messaging/video chat apps is with Google. I really don’t understand why Allo and Duo exist. 1. Why couldn’t the functionality of Allo and Duo just built into Hangouts and we stick with Hangouts? 2. If Hangouts reputation is beyond repair (as rumours suggest), then why will Google continue to support it? Just kill it off and let Allo/Duo take its place permanently. The idea/intent/message isn’t clear, and I think that is what is frustrating to a lot of users. Messaging is something on Android that has unfortunately… Read more »

    Alex Harvey

    I think the main reason is because Hangouts has such a bad reputation already they likely feel it is easier to attract people to a new platform than to win them back to one they hate.
    I use hangout all the time and I honestly quite like it though I use it mostly with Google voice since I dont know many people that use the Hangouts messages


    Hate having so many messaging apps on my mobile. I have to install WeChat to keep in touch with all my friends in China, then I have to install hangouts to occasionally contact with some work related friends, then I have to install WhatsApp to contact with non Chinese friends. Yeah, I also install slack for work related stuff. Next I am going to install Allo. So many apps and non of them can rule all.

    Shahil Prasad

    i used to think the same but its really not that big a deal. i have whatsapp, viber, snapchat, FB messenger, hangouts, regular sms messenger, and now duo. Honestly though, i only speak to about 10 people regularly. i know what their preferences are, so if im sharing stuff, or talking to them i use something i know they have installed. oh and lync, skype for work. And theres always FB messenger that captures a lot of the non techy crowd. I consider my self savvy enough to know the shortfalls of the apps above so it doesn’t bother me.… Read more »

    Huge Jackman

    Just another way for Google to get your phone number.