With the duo video chat app from Google, you can shortly make group video calls on the Internet, the search company announced today. This could be a handy way to meet your friends and family while you distance yourself socially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Group call participants, however, need a Google account to join, says Google. The feature will be previewed in Chrome in the coming weeks.
There is also a new "family mode" in Duo that allows you to draw on the screen in real time and apply Snapchat-like masks and effects to yourself. Duo hides the mute and hang up buttons while in family mode so you can scribble and play around without worrying about the call being accidentally dropped, says Google. Family mode is available if you're using Duo while signed in with your Google account. Here's a picture of what it looks like:
According to Google, the Snapchat-like masks and effects will also be available in one-on-one conversations that you make on Android and iOS. The first ones start this week, including this terrible mask that turns you into a flower to celebrate Mother's Day:
Last month, Google announced that it would launch the AV1 duo call video codec to improve video call quality, introduce side-by-side photo mode, and increase the size of duo group calls from eight to twelve. You can see a lot of the features of Google Duo in action in this promotional video:
Duo now falls under the responsibility of Javier Soltero, the vice president and general manager of G Suite, Google announced yesterday. That means he's now monitoring Duo and Google Meet, Google's other video calling service. However, Soltero has no immediate plans to change or integrate Google's messaging and communication apps, he said to my colleague Dieter Bohn yesterday. Meet was a business-oriented app in the past, but Google made it free for everyone last week.