This might be the most important Duo update ever.
If you want to make video calls on an Android device, Google Duo is easily your best bet. Google’s added a lot of new features and improvements since its release in 2016, but like any other communications app, it’s faced the same issue of forcing you to encourage your friends and family members to actually download it so you can talk to them.
The folks at Android Police recently did some digging around, and it looks like Google actually has a solution for this. With the latest version of Google Duo, you can still successfully call a contact on your phone even if they don’t have Duo installed on their end.
As you can see in Android Police’s video below, a call is made to an Android phone that doesn’t have Duo installed, but it still receives the call as if it did have the app. Duo’s Knock-Knock feature is present to show what the incoming caller’s camera sees, you can swipe up to answer/swipe down to decline, and once the call is accepted, you’ve got regular controls for turning your camera flash on and muting the microphone.
Once you end the call, a pop-up message appears asking if you’d like to install Duo, in addition to blocking that person from calling you again. The whole process looks ridiculously sleek, and it has the potential to solve one of Duo’s biggest hurdles. This only works on Android phones as it uses Google’s App Preview Messaging service that was first used with Allo in 2016, so trying to call iPhone users that don’t have the app still won’t work.
Even so, this is a huge step for Duo and one that could finally make it the mainstream video calling app Android needs.
Lead Google Duo engineer teases group calls, web app, and more