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Google Duo Review: Now With Voice Calls

Google Duo – Download and Install

The Duo is now available for download from the Google Play Store since August 16th. Once installed, you will need to register your phone number, as well as WhatsApp and Telegram.

Google Duo
Install on Google Play

Google Duo: Voice Calls

Last week, Google held a super event in So Paulo, and presented some of the proposals that the company will bring to Brazil in the coming months. Among them we had the announcement that the Google Assistant in Portuguese should reach the Brazilians soon, as well as the voice calls feature to the Duo.

The latter is part of investing in an inclusive internet, as he decided to call Mario Queiroz, VP of Google product. Google's new video calling and messaging apps are very popular in Brazil. Moreover, we are among the countries that most use both applications.

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Google Duo now with voice calls / Google

So in order to encourage Duo use, especially users using slow internet connections, Google is adding voice calls to the app. Previously, only video calls were allowed.

This feature well used on WhatsApp and Hangouts, and welcome to Google Duo. The news has started to be released on the Play store in Brazil, and should arrive soon for Android and iOS in other regions.

Google Duo: Minimalist Interface

One of the great advantages of the Duo over the competition – or its major disadvantages in the opinion of others – is that the application has few functions and a minimalist user interface. Of course, the UI is one of the most intuitive among the search giant's apps.

As soon as you open the app, the screen appears split between the image captured by the front camera and your contacts. These are either people you called or people who called you. By sliding your finger across the screen from top to bottom, you will expand the screen with your contacts. By clicking on the camera icon, you initiate a call, but have to enter the contact from your phonebook, or by adding the phone number.

Knock Knock

The knock knock feature is something new only Google has in a video call app. Such a feature makes it possible to see who is calling beforehand. But beware: This feature only appears for people whose contact is on your calendar. Otherwise, work as a common call.

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On the left we have the Duo UI at the time of app launch; on the right, the settings menu / AndroidPIT

At call time you will be advised that your video is available to the other person to avoid embarrassment. As soon as the person on the other end of the call answers, the screens will be replaced and your image will be minimized in the lower left corner. Here we have the chance to turn off the red cone and navigate between the front and rear cameras. This makes perfect sense, as you can explore much more of your space and share much more details of your environment.

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left, waiting for the other person to answer; right, the link UI / AndroidPIT

Another good feature in an app to make calls is the possibility to turn off the microphone at certain times. Just click on the corresponding symbol and you turn it on and off. This function is really important for when you are in a noisy place, so you listen better to the person on the other side.

And no, you can't use the speaker in private mode, so everyone around you will listen to your conversation. This is really a counter in public places. Also, so far, we can't make group video calls or even cancel the video and just use the voice. According to Google developers, the voice call function is on its way and should arrive with the next update of the app.

Google Duo: How much of your data plan does the app consume?

The data plan consumption per connection is really high. Using the 4G connection, in a conversation of just under five minutes, 161MB of the plan was consumed. This is without the "mobile data usage limit" enabled.

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A call of just under 5 minutes consumed 161 MB of data plan / AndroidPIT

In another experiment, using the Galaxy S7 and the Nexus 5X, in a call without this economy mode enabled, the expense was 20MB per minute. With the data limit option, the expense was 8MB per minute. Yes, the quality of the video affected in this case.

Google Duo: Image Quality

Despite Google's promise that the Duo works on both good and bad connections, the app's experience on problem connections is awful. And that is really frustrating. I would expect such marketing from Apple, but not from a company like Google that invests in services that can optimize internet usage. Now, when you're connected to a quality WiFi network, your video call will be great.

However, the data plan that supports us on travel and even on the go home when we have time to start a conversation for hours. In this sense, the Duo still functions as Apple's competitor FaceTime, present natively on iPhones.

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Video quality varies greatly: if you're on a WiFi network it's worth it, pure nuisance / AndroidPIT

Should Duo be a system native app?

The Google Duo is simple to use, intuitive but not yet efficient. High data consumption, video quality directly depends on how good your internet connection is. So if you have an economical data plan, you can spend it within minutes of using the app. However, by adding the option of making voice-only internet calls without the need for video, it can become a more functional tool.

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Duo should not be a system native app like FaceTime, at least now / AndroidPIT

During Google I / O 2016, the Sundar Pichai team announced Allo, a Facebook Messenger-style messenger who uses chatbots to deliver quick information to members of a conversation. So far, Allo hasn't been officially launched yet, but I'm really curious to see how this messaging app and Duo can coexist.

If you ask me if Duo, like Apple's FaceTime, should be a system-native application right now, I'd say that would mean having more Google bloatware on my Android than a functional and efficient app!

Do you use Google Duo? Now that voice calls have been integrated into the app, would you download the service?

. (tagsToTranslate) Google Duo Review (t) google voice calls duo (t) making video calls (t) free wifi calls