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Google Finally Launches Duo—Here's Why You Should Give the New Video Chat App a Try

Google's new cross-platform video chat app, Duo, is finally making its debut today, following a long waiting period that began in late May. The app was heavily teased during the keynote speech at Google I/O, but was not made available for download until now, so any early hype Google managed to whip up has died down quite a bit.

But don't let the poorly-timed release ruin all of the fun, because Duo actually has a lot to offer. The cross-platform video calling app just might have the best picture quality you can get when making video calls between an iPhone and Android device—and now that the app is finally available for Android and iOS, it's certainly worth a download.

Duo Explained

Duo's headlining feature is definitely the video quality—perhaps the best you'll see with a cross-platform mobile app. It's packed to the brim with software optimizations that will keep the feed going in crystal-clear HD quality, to an extent that has only been seen with Apple's exclusive FaceTime app in the past. This was made possible by Google's own WebRTC video framework, which can maintain HD quality even when you only have a 2G data connection.

But Duo has another trick up its sleeve with a feature called "Knock Knock." When you receive a video call, you'll see a live feed of the other user's camera before you even answer, giving you a glimpse of the conversation to come. Google hopes this will make the service more engaging for users, but that remains to be seen.

But, of course, this isn't a perfect app. For starters, it's yet another app that you'll have to convince your friends to install, which is always a struggle. But at least there's no signup involved, since the service relies only on your phone number to identify you. And aside from the call quality and Knock Knock, there really aren't many standout features. No fancy video filters, overlays, or face swapping is involved here, as Google intentionally built Duo to be as simple as possible.

Google's new Duo app features high-quality video, previews of incoming calls, and an intentionally simple interface. Images via Google

Install Duo on Android or iOS

Duo will begin rolling out to all iOS and Android users on August 16, but it may take a few days before the download link goes live in your area. So to try the new service, simply head to the install page for your phone's operating system linked below, and if it's not available yet, just keep checking back.

As an alternative, impatient Android users can sideload the app right now. But before you grab the APK, you'll need to find your device's CPU architecture and DPI value. With that information in hand, just head to the link below, then download and install the right version—but as a note to international users, Duo is only allowing U.S. and Canada phone numbers to register for the first few days.

One final note—there's no word yet on Allo, the other app Google teased at I/O. The new messaging service features deep Google Assistant integration, and it may take a while before this AI-powered framework is ready for prime time, so that's probably what's keeping Allo on the shelf until further notice.

Cover image via Google/YouTube

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