Google Officially Launches FaceTime Competitor, Duo

Among the developments at Google’s annual developer conference back in May was Google Duo, a cross-platform video calling app designed to compete with Apple’s FaceTime.

As of today, Duo is live for both iOS and Android users. All that is required to sign-up is your phone number (and the app, of course), and all Duo calls are end-to-end encrypted.

Beyond security and cross-platform capabilities, Google Duo is counting on the same convenience that its own limited cell service provides: the ability to switch between WiFI and cellular data seamlessly, without dropping calls. Competing on slow connections gives Duo the potential for international appeal, particularly in areas with spotty cell coverage.

Duo also boosts a rather clever feature called Knock Knock, which enables users to see live videos of callers before they decide whether or not to answer. The unfortunate catch for iOS users is that Knock Knock will not show a live preview unless Duo is open before the call is initiated (a small detail, denoted as a bullet-point at the bottom of Duo’s start page).

MarketingLand notes in an article posted on Tuesday that Google Duo is essentially a consumer replacement for Hangouts. Though Hangouts won’t entirely be phased-out, the product will be reserved for B2B use, while Duo will be the go-to for person-to-person video calling within Alphabet moving forward.

Google Duo is live in the US now, and is rolling out worldwide over the coming days.

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