Use Google Duo

Google has now re­leased its new video call­ing app, Duo. Mar­tyn Casserly ex­plains how it works

Android Advisor - - Contents -

It’s true that you can al­ready make free video calls on Google Han­gouts, but Duo is an op­ti­mised, sim­pler ser­vice that uses your mo­bile phone num­ber rather than Gmail ad­dress as the ba­sis of the ac­count. Like Han­gouts it’s also cross plat­form, mean­ing you can make calls to friends who use ei­ther An­droid or iOS de­vices, plus Google states that the ser­vice uses end-to-end en­cryp­tion, so your calls should re­main pri­vate.

Per­haps the most un­usual and unique fea­ture of Duo is Knock Knock, which al­lows the per­son you’re call­ing to (only on An­droid phones, cur­rently) see a video feed from you be­fore they

an­swer. While this could po­ten­tially lead to some em­bar­rass­ing mo­ments if you for­get the feed is live, it also cre­ates the op­por­tu­nity to en­sure peo­ple take your call when they see those con­cert tick­ets, en­gage­ment rings, or other no­table en­tice­ments that you need to share.

Get the app

De­pend­ing on your plat­form of choice you’ll need to ei­ther visit the Ap­ple App Store or Google’s Play Store to down­load Duo. Once it’s in­stalled and launched for the first time you’ll be asked to en­ter your phone num­ber. This will gen­er­ate a text mes­sage with a code that you use to con­firm your iden­tity. The app also re­quires var­i­ous per­mis­sions to use func­tions such as your cam­era, con­tacts, and audio so that it can make and re­ceive calls. Grant all of these and you’re ready to start us­ing Duo.

How to use Google Duo

When you launch Duo now you’ll be pre­sented with a live im­age of your­self tak­ing up two thirds of the screen, ac­com­pa­nied by a large Video Call but­ton in the bot­tom third. The only other no­table se­lec­tion avail­able is the three dot icon in the top right cor­ner that gives you ac­cess to the Set­tings menu. In here you have a small amount of things you can change (Google seems to be keep­ing things de­lib­er­ately sim­ple and that’s a good thing). These in­clude whether Knock Knock is ac­ti­vated or not, the abil­ity to limit mo­bile data use, the op­tion to un­reg­is­ter your phone num­ber, plus a list of other peo­ple’s num­bers you’ve blocked.

Mak­ing a call in­volves tap­ping the Video Call but­ton on the main screen and then se­lect­ing some­one from your con­tacts list. Any­one with Duo in­stalled ap­pears at the top of the list, while all the oth­ers have an In­vite but­ton to the right of their num­ber. When you’ve found some­one that fits the bill, tap their num­ber and the call will be­gin. The video of your­self is now vis­i­ble to the re­ceiver,

which you’ll be re­minded of by the mes­sage ‘Smile, Knock Knock is on!’

Once the call is an­swered there a cou­ple of op­tions avail­able to you. In the bot­tom left of the screen you’ll see the live video feed of your­self. Tap­ping this will make your video full-screen while swap­ping the per­son you’re call­ing into the lit­tle cir­cle in­stead. Tap again to re­turn to nor­mal. If you swipe in from the left side a cou­ple of other but­tons ap­pear. The first mutes the sound, while the other al­lows you to switch from the front fac­ing cam­era to the back one in­stead, useful if you want to show some­thing you’re look­ing at to the per­son you’re call­ing.

Other than that the only other but­ton is the big red cir­cle that will end the call. Re­mem­ber that the app works in both land­scape and por­trait mode, which is handy as land­scape pro­vides more room in the shot if you have a few friends with you.

That’s it. As we said, Google has kept things sim­ple, which means you can get on with talk­ing and less with tap­ping and swip­ing.

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