The Nest Hub devices (originally Home Hub) were a leap forward for home automation and smart home control. They bring a visual and touch interface to tasks otherwise requiring you to use your phone. So it’s interesting that — with the COVID-19 pandemic and rise of online meetings — it has taken this long for Duo and Meet to be integrated.

While Duo calls have been supported in Australia for some time now, group calls have not and require management. The catch here is that you still need to manage your groups via the Duo mobile app first. That is however a fairly small price to pay if you’re keen to keep in touch with specific groups regularly.

To get started, you can create groups in the Duo Mobile app, and from there just ask your Hub Max, “Hey Google, make a group call,” and tap on the Duo group you want to connect with. And with auto-framing, you can freely move around your kitchen or living room during your Duo video call, while staying in view.

While the Google Blog post is focussed on their product, others are also compatible. This includes the LG XBOOM AI ThinQ WK9 Smart Display, JBL Link View and Lenovo’s 8 inch and 10 inch Smart Displays.

Google Meet is a newcomer to the online meeting game: it’s replacing Hangouts, which replaced Chat but let’s not tumble down the Google messaging rabbit hole again. Meet is seemingly here to stay — it is now integrated with Gmail and able to be utilised by a number of new ways. The beta rollout for G Suite users also gives a strong impression that Meet is the pathway forward for Google.

At the moment it’s said that both features are available only the USA, but I successfully started a group Duo call this morning. So it would seem that the rollout is coming to our shores fairly rapidly after the initial announcement.

Until the pandemic is under control globally, video calls will continue to be the norm — then we need to collectively figure out what our new normal is. Until then we have existing and emerging technologies to help us stay in touch with our friends, family and colleagues.