When Duo launched I wasn’t an instant fan. Jump forward to today, and it’s one of the Google services I use most often. Part of the reason for this change has been Google’s reliable cadence of improvements to the service with multi-device support mostly working, Duo calling on Google Smart Displays and some other improvements added along the way.
Thanks to some AP tipsters we’ve gotten our first look at the next feature to hit Duo: Group Calling. This was definitely one of those features that was ‘missing’ at launch and it’s great to see Google continue to improve Duo. From what is revealed by the leaked screenshots it seems that the first iteration of Duo Group Calling will allow up to 8 participants to video chat at once, that 8 includes the person who initiates the call.
To start a group call you can create and name a new group in Duo with up to 7 other people, as you’re the 8th participant, and then initiate the call. Once started it’s unclear how the app handles the switching of video, if Hangouts is any indication it will automatically show who ever is talking at that point in time. Presently once a call has started new members can not be added to the group, which is a shame, especially if the flow of a call makes adding a new participant desirable.
You may have spotted in the screenshots above that you can also select “Call my Home devices” as an option. While this obviously allows you to call Google Home devices paired to your Duo account from the Duo app it’s unclear if you can select a single device or if it will ring all of your paired devices. It’s also not clear if Duo voice calling will be rolling out further than just Google Smart Displays. It would be great to get Duo voice calling like the Home Hub has on all Home devices.
Google also dropped in another new feature, low light mode. This one is fairly self explanatory, if you’re video calling in low light situations you’ll get a pop up offering to initiate low light more, which will, presumably make the video clearer.
Considering these screenshots appear to have come from devices ‘in the wild’, it’s very likely that these new features may not be far away. Unless someone has broken an NDA with Google on a testing version of the Duo app, we might be seeing these new features roll out soon.