Google has launched a simple one-to-one video chat app called Duo that looks to compete with FaceTime, Skype and Facebook Messenger.
Unlike its other major video chat tool Hangouts, Duo works exclusively on phones (Android and iPhone) rather than across devices.
The app is designed with simplicity in mind. Users sign up and the app checks their phone number from your SIM and sends a confirmation text. There are no accounts to create nor friend lists to maintain.
The app is tied directly to the users contacts list and your phone number.
The mover marks Google’s response to other popular video calling options, including Apple’s FaceTime, Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s Messenger.
The key unique feature of Duo is “Knock Knock”- a preview function that users a glimpse at who’s making the call, helping people decide whether to answer or not.
Calls are encrypted and the video resolution changes depending on the speed of connection.
Google’s been offering video calling through Hangouts since 2013, but the company’s now tailoring that service for business meetings and it won’t plug into the new video chat service.
Duo is being billed as a simpler, more reliable way to see friends and family as you talk to them.
The app is rolling out around the world over the next few days.
The US company is also preparing to unveil a new messaging app called Allo featuring a robotic assistant that will suggest automated responses to texts.
That includes commenting on pictures sent by friends, thanks to its use of image recognition algorithms.