How to Use Google Duo on Mobiles and PC
If you haven’t got finally confused in the large list of Google apps for communicating, here’s another one, named Google Duo. This one is used for making video and voice calls via the Internet, and also exchanging video messages.
Though it’s meant to be intuitive, here are the basic instruction on how to use Google Duo. Maybe some nuances are not as obvious as they seemed.
Installing Google Duo
Google Duo for Android can be found on Google Play. Google Duo iOS version is just as easily available on the App Store. Just install it the regular way you do it with other apps:
- Open its page on the store;
- Tap “Install”;
- Wait until the download is complete, and then tap Open.
Otherwise, Android users can download Google Duo .APK file elsewhere and install it manually:
- Download .APK file and copy it to your phone or tablet if necessary;
- Open this file with your file manager;
- Allow installing apps from third-party sources if necessary;
- Follow the instructions until the app is installed.
But if you prefer this way, you need to install the latest version of Google Duo, and then to allow its automatic updates. Otherwise, it may become nonfunctional.
Getting Google Duo ready for work requires giving it a set of permissions. The app needs to access:
These are the permissions you should confirm manually. The app needs other permissions as well (Internet, fingerprint scanner or FaceID, preventing the phone from sleeping), but these are granted automatically. As you run the app for the first time, the app prompts you to grant all these permissions. After it’s done, you can access your contacts and make calls.
It should be highlighted that the app requires minimum permissions; for example, it doesn’t need to access your files or photo gallery (unless you intend to send video messages from your gallery, but then it will prompt you on this occasion). If you’re concerned about possible leaks and want your files unavailable to third-party apps, that’s a reason to use Google Duo for video calls.
As video calls are the primary feature of Google Duo, they are easiest to make. Here is how to call using Google Duo, both on Android and iOS:
- Launch Google Duo;
- Scroll down to select the contact you want to call;
- Tap the contact;
- When prompted whether you want to make a voice call, a video call, or send a video message, select Video.
If Knock Knock feature is active in Settings, you start streaming your video immediately. This means that your contact can see your video even before they accept the call. You need to be aware of it. If you don’t want to be seen before the call starts, turn this option off in Settings.
Google Duo is also capable of sending video messages up to 30 seconds long that self-destruct in 24 hours. When you select the contact to talk to, you can send a video message instead of calling. To do so:
- Tap the contact;
- Select “Message” (a round icon with a red dot in the right lower corner);
- Tap the red button to start recording;
- Tap it again to stop;
- Tap “Send” button with a paper plane to send it.
If you decide not to send the recorded message, it is deleted immediately.
In theory, there are AR effects you can use for your video messages. In fact, on Google Duo iOS version there is only one effect for messages: transparent heart-shaped bulbs floating up, sort of cute, though. On Android, there is none at all. And it’s not sure whether Google will add any; Duo is no rival to Snapchat, as its purposes are totally different.
Despite the name, Duo implies that only private talks are supported, in fact, now Google Duo is a good environment for small video conferences, with up to eight participants (including you).
To start the conference, you need to select up to seven potential interlocutors and start the call. As they join, their video streams appear on your screen simultaneously, so you can see all of them. Tap the one you want to see closer to make their video full screen.
You can join the conference you’re invited to by simply accepting the call, and the picture you see will be the same as if you started it.
Like any video call app, Google Duo isn’t completely abuse-free, but you can fix it by blocking the users you don’t want to speak to. To block someone, you need to do the following:
- Select the user you want to block in your history;
- Long-tap on their avatar;
- Select “Block number” in the bottom of the pop-up menu.
Blocked users can’t contact you. If you want to block someone preventively, you can add the user to “Blocked Users” list manually, by just adding the number. Here you can also review your blacklist and mercy some users by removing them from the blacklist.
Google Duo on PC
There is a desktop Google Duo version too, since February 2019, and its features are similar to mobile apps. To use it, you need to visit duo.google.com and log in if necessary. The page will prompt permissions similar to those for mobile apps: it will need to access your camera and your microphone. The contact list will be loaded from the cloud.
The way you use it is just the same as on mobile devices. There is no standalone app for desktop platforms, which makes the web version the best option. If you enable notifications for Google Duo in your browser, you will hear calls as soon as someone is calling you. All the features, like voice calls, messages, conference calls, and Knock Knock, are available via the web too.
Yet if you try to use the web version from a mobile device, you’ll be redirected to the page with links to various mobile versions. Bad news for those few still on Windows Phone or Bada. If you have the app installed, but aren’t aware of it, it will open automatically as you tap “Try it”.
Google Duo is probably the simplest and easiest app for video calls, conferences, and VoIP talking. Free and small in size, it requires no special account and offers little to explore. But if you just want it for your business, this is an easy and lightweight option for you. Just make sure all of your potential interlocutors have it installed too.