Google Launches Duo but will it out do Facetime?


Posted on Aug 22, 2016

The brand new Google Duo app has officially been released as of 16th August 2016. Google Duo is a shiny new video app feature exclusively available on mobile that works with both android and iphone devices. Thus far, the app has been praised on it’s easy to use, “no bells and whistles” features and fast setup time. When signing up, your phone number is checked against your SIM which then sends a confirmation text. Your friend list is tied directly to your contacts within your phone - Simple as that! It’s even easier to make a call by simply tapping on the face of the person you want to call and they answer, no time or effort required.


Google Duo certainly boasts some innovative features that so far haven’t been seen before in similar applications. One particular component that especially stands out is the “knock knock” feature. When you receive a call your screen will show a live video from your caller before you even answer. This lets you immediately see who is calling and allows them to communicate with you before you even choose to accept the call. The main benefit of this is that the call is up and running from the second you choose to accept, no frustration or confusion while waiting for connection. The convenient aspect of knock knock is that it only works with people who are saved in your contacts, no strangers can send you video requests. If it turns out this feature still isn’t your cup of tea, it can simply be turned off. 

Another key element of Google Duo is the ability for video calls to connect quickly and work well even on slower networks. Call quality also adjusts to changing network conditions to keep you connected by gracefully reducing the resolution to keep the call going smoothly. For video calls on the go, Duo will switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data automatically without dropping your call.


A question on everyone’s lips is how Google Duo will compete with not only Google’s own existing video and messenger app - Google Hangouts but also with the ever popular Apple Facetime app. Google has cleverly separated the branding of its two apps to ensure that they are not directly competing with each other. Hangouts will continue to exist with a more tightly focused mission: serving enterprise users while Duo will exist as a more consumer focused app.


In Regards to Facetime however, it is unclear how the two will compete. Pros and cons can be drawn from each. On the surface, the two are very similar. Both facilitate one-on-one video calls, both have end-to-end encryption and both are supported on Wi-Fi and mobile data connections. Where Duo may an edge is it’s ability to be used on both Android and iOS, which means you are not limited to only calling friends who possess iPhones.  Of course, a standout feature to Duo, unavailable on Facetime is “Knock Knock” however a major drawback is it’s inability to integrate fully into iOS, making it difficult to use this feature on an iphone device. This renders the google Duo pro of being “quick and easy to use” somewhat untrue and with the number of Apple users around the world now surpassing 1 billion this can be seen as a significant drawback. A positive for Facetime is that it somewhat has a head start against Google Duo immediately. Facetime is automatically installed on Iphone ready for use where as Google Duo requires downloading and therefore relies on users being sold on the idea of the new app. 


In conclusion, with the popularity of Apple devices worldwide significantly growing day by day with 74.78 million iPhones sold in Q1 2016 marking the most profitable quarter of any single public corporation in history, Facetime could be saved by consumer loyalty. However Google Duo is new and innovative, containing many key features that solves several consumer gripes about Facetime. Only time will tell who will ultimately win the battle.


Leah Hickey, Account Manager at Why Media comments: ‘Despite the desirable feature of being used across all mobile devices we are sceptical about the success of Duo and feel that it could possibly be too little too late for the technology giant. FaceTime has been around since 2010 and reports haven’t shown any major requests for another provider. We are in an Apple dominant world which means the majority of people in the UK own either an iPhone, iPod, iPad or all three which all feature FaceTime. The launch of Duo also means that Google is competing with another of their services, Google Hangouts which allows users to video call with up to 25 participants.’