Want to have a two-way FaceTime video chat with family members, friends, or business acquaintances? I have done this frequently to chat with my grandchildren. I am presently 9,300 miles (14,966 km) away from them but Apple FaceTime is almost as good as being there in person. Not only do I see the grandchildren but they can show me their latest artwork, clothes, and other things that grandchildren love to show their grandparents. The highlight of the last video chat was seeing where the oldest grandchild had lost her first tooth.
There has been but one problem: Apple’s FaceTime only works on Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Macintosh systems. That became a problem when I switched to an Android cell phone a few months ago in order to save a lot of money. (See my recent article at https://goo.gl/lyFj5f for the details.) FaceTime is a wonderfully easy solution, but it isn’t available for Android.
I have used Skype to accomplish the same thing but it is buggy and clunky. Other video conferencing apps are also available but do not seem to be much better. Now Google has come to the rescue.
The new Duo app from Google is simple to use, is elegant, and seems to work well in my first few tests. Duo is available for both Android and Apple iOS. Even better, Google’s Duo video chat app offers end-to-end encryption to keep your private conversations just that: private. It should be impossible for any hacker or government agent to wiretap your conversations. Admittedly, I do not have the equipment to test the encryption so I will have to accept Google’s advertised claims. I believe them.
“Duo is simple from start to finish. To get started, all you need is your phone number and you’ll be able to reach people in your phone’s contacts list. No separate account is required, so you can sign up in just a few steps. From there, you can instantly begin a video call with a single tap”, says Justin Uberti, Principal Software Engineer, Google.
I have only made a couple of calls with Duo so far but it has worked well for me. From my hotel room here in Singapore, I can have two-way video conversations with my grandchildren in the US and check on that lost tooth. It is great to be able to talk with them and see them from 9,300 miles away.
The Duo app appears to be as easy to use as Apple FaceTime, perhaps even easier. The video and audio have been perfect so far. Duo works on either wi-fi networks or on cellular data networks. I suspect the video quality will be less on cellular connections as the speeds generally are lower. Standard cellular charges will apply when using a cellular connection, of course. Check your agreement with your cellular company for details. Wi-fi connections normally are free and also tend to be much faster.
Duo is available today in the USA for both Android and iOS and should be available soon in other countries. Unfortunately, there are no Windows, Macintosh, or web clients. Duo only works on Android and Apple iOS. At least, that is true today. If Duo becomes as popular as I think it will, I suspect Google will consider releasing it on other operating systems as well.
You can learn more about Duo in the Google Official Blog at https://goo.gl/Q2NcNy. Duo may be downloaded and installed from the Play Store for Android and from Apple’s App Store. On Apple’s App Store, make sure you install Google Duo as there are a couple of other, unrelated apps that also use the word “Duo.” Look for the word “Google” in the app’s name.