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This article was published on May 18, 2016

Google Duo is a video chatting app that lets you see callers before picking up

Google Duo is a video chatting app that lets you see callers before picking up
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

Today at I/O, Google debuted its new chat app, ‘Allo‘ as well as a companion app (for video) ‘Duo.’

Duo is lightening-quick, encrypted and works on both iOS and Android. The team worked with WebRTC to create a new protocol that allows for instant creation of an encrypted connection, a feature that keeps you from answering the call only to be faced with a blank screen while you wait on both ends’ video feeds to catch up.

It uses the same technology — as well as hand-tuned and optimized codecs, bandwidth probing and other quality measures — to ensure that not only is your video available instantly (before you even answer the call), but also to ensure that call quality degrades gracefully as your connection fades. With dozens of proactive monitoring methods, your call quality will constantly improve and degrade on a bad connection, or remain crystal clear on a good one.

One of the coolest features is actually one of its biggest tech challenges — instant video.

Most of us hate answering calls, and that typically includes video calls. Duo wants to provide you with instant context by showing you the video feed of the other party before you ever answer — giving you instant context to decide if it’s worth talking to your drunken friend at 3am.

By seeing the person on the other end, you have the power to answer the call — or not — while having information you wouldn’t have with a traditional video call, or a standard phone call. This powerful feature could just change the way we make calls, which could lead to making a few more of them.

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