Google's clever back-end work lets you switch from Wi-Fi to cellular with just a brief stutter.
It's as stable as any video chat I've used, even on crappy connections. If you've ever tried video chat, you know the pain of diagnosing connection problems, determining usernames, and figuring out how the app works. It's simple like phone calls, because Google imagines Duo as something like the evolution of phone calls.
(the Duo ad does a great job showing you all the cool things you can do with Knock Knock, but mostly I use it to make sure everyone's clothed.) Swipe up to answer, and you're on the call. You can use Duo to call anyone, but it seems designed largely for calling the same people over and over.
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Even if everyone decides to get down with video calling, Google needs to get tons of people to download the app if it is to become part of the world's messaging lexicon.
Almost everyone already has a video-chatting app, be it it Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Skype, Viber, Face Time, or even Google's own Hangouts.
With Duo, all you do is call the person from the app. If you're on i OS, you get a push notification that someone's calling. On Android, Duo calls come through like phone calls, ringing loudly and taking over the screen.
If the person in your phone book, the Knock Knock feature provides live video before you pick up. Turn it back on and video should return, too— though it doesn't always cooperate.
Duo is Google's attempt to make video calling happen.
Google and Apple have battled each other for years for primacy over mobile users.
The problem isn't the app so much as chatting on camera. Or you can do what I do: Watch the small thumbnail of yourself.
Video calling has been the next big thing in communication for two decades, and a staple of science fiction for far longer. Even now, when the tech is good enough and everyone carries Internet-connected cameras, it's hardly the first thing you think to do. How do you hold the phone far enough from your face to avoid looking terrifying yet close enough to avoid yelling to be heard? I used to play videogames during phone calls, and texting while watching TV is standard for anyone with a phone and a TV.
Video also isn't conducive to modern communication.