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Google takes on FaceTime and Skype with Duo

Google is betting on simplicity, cross-platform functionality and privacy concerns to attract smartphone uses to its Duo video-calling app

Google has launched video-calling app Duo to challenge Apple’s FaceTime and Microsoft-owned Skype, enabling video calls between Android and iOS devices with end-to-end encryption.

“You shouldn’t have to worry about whether your call will connect, or if your friend is using the same type of device as you are,” Google said in a statement.

Duo is widely seen as part of Google’s business strategy to make apps compatible with a broad set of devices, providing iOS and Mac users alternatives to Apple apps.

Google hopes to attract users through a simple and easy to use interface for Duo which enables calls to anyone on a user’s phone contact list without needing a separate account.

Analysts said Google’s previous video calling and messaging app Hangouts had limited adoption because it required both users to have a Google account.

The switch to using phone numbers rather than a Google account or Gmail address brings Duo in line with Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime, making it easier to video call friends, family and other people already stored on mobile phone contact lists.

Google also claims to have built Duo to be fast and reliable even on slow networks by adjusting picture resolution automatically to ensure connections are maintained.

Due is also designed to switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data automatically without dropping calls.

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“To make calls feel more like an invitation rather than an interruption, we created a feature in Duo called Knock Knock which lets you see live video of your caller before you answer, giving you a sense of what they’re up to and why they want to chat,” Google said in a blog post.

Google is also hoping to win competitive advantage by emphasising the Duo has been built with attention to privacy and security, with Duo calls being encrypted end-to-end.

Duo is aimed at the consumer market, which means it will not replace Hangouts, which will continue to be developed for enterprise users and become more integrated with Google Apps.

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