Google’s Simplistic Duo 1-to-1 Video Calling App Rivals FaceTime And Skype

Have you ever wished you could FaceTime on your Android handset? Well now you can, sort of. Google today announced the immediate availability of Duo, a 1-to-1 video calling app that was first unveiled at Google I/O last May. It's similar to FaceTime in that you can buzz a buddy or family member for a video call, and it works on both Android and iOS devices.

If we're being snarky, we could say this has the potential to be the best app of 2010. Of course, it's now 2016 and Apple's FaceTime technology has been around for more than half a decade. It begs the question of whether or not Google is too late to the video calling party. As my stepdaughter recently bellyached when trying to dial her up on FaceTime, "Nobody uses FaceTime anymore!"

Google Duo

She's wrong about that, but she's also right. How so? People are still using FaceTime, but interest in video chatting has definitely shifted to apps like SnapChat, Messenger, and even Instagram. The game has changed, though I'm not sure if it's changed so much that Google Duo amounts to a Hail Mary pass or if cross-platform 1-to-1 video calling from a non-Skype product can catch on.

Google's about to find out. The appeal of Duo is that it's "simple from start to finish." It does require downloading an app from Google Play or iTunes, but once installed and setup, all you need is your phone number and you can reach out to people in your contacts list with a single tap—there's no separate account.

The other pitch from Google (and we're paraphrasing here) is that Duo should work well even on crappy networks.

"We all know how it feels when a call fails to connect or when video gets choppy. We’ve built Duo to be fast and reliable, so that video calls connect quickly and work well even on slower networks. Call quality adjusts to changing network conditions to keep you connected — when bandwidth is limited, Duo will gracefully reduce the resolution to keep the call going smoothly," Google explains.

You also needn't worry about staying connected to a Wi-Fi network. Duo switches between Wi-Fi and cellular data automatically, so if your video session runs so long that it takes you out of the home, you can continue to chat.

Intrigued? You can grab Duo for Android devices here and for iOS handsets here.