With COVID-19 making remote video chat something that people actually want to use we have seen an unprecedented amount of development and iteration around video calling apps. Google’s Duo is no different, and despite many of the criticisms of Google’s messaging strategy Duo is a solid, reliable cross-platform product and one we would recommend.

The latest update to Duo brings along some real improvements and more fluff. First of all Google Duo for Web is now compatible with group calling. Now group chats are not restricted to Android and iOS devices, those dialling in from a web browser can also join in. At the moment though the extended functionality is only available as a preview on the Chrome browser.

Next up is invite links, and Google got this half right. Instead of having to select all 12 participants of a group chat (soon to be extended to 32) you can now share a link and the first 12 people to join will be in the chat. This is a much easier process assuming you already have a group chat to share the link with.

It would have been great if Google could have allowed anyone to join the link even those without a Google account using an online client such as web RTC. Exposing those who don’t have a Google account or don’t have it installed on their device may just drive a little more adoption.

The final update is a family mode, this mode allows your kids to spend less time concentrating on the conversation and more trying to doodle on the screen or apply filters during the call. Snark aside, family mode brings the ability to live doodle for all to see and a few more effects.

There’s even a Mother’s Day-inspired plant face effect that will make mothers the world over feel loved and appreciated beyond measure.

Duo wouldn’t be a Google product if they didn’t have just a little fragmentation and it seems that Duo on Smart Displays may not be in line for these features at the moment. In the end Duo is free, fast and reliable and is my families video chat app of choice. If you haven’t tried it you should!

Google Duo
Google Duo
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free
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Still can’t log into it with Family Link supervised Google accounts 🙄.
So kids can only use it if they have a mobile number.

Nigel Elliott

still cant let kids duo call from home max either. pointless.