Google to integrate Meet’s video call features with Duo

Published on Jun 02, 2022 03:15 PM IST
Google confirms that the feature set for Meet will be integrated within Duo, which will then be renamed to Google Meet
Representational image.
Representational image.

Google is embarking on a trip to consolidate its vast, and often confusing, portfolio of messaging apps. Top of the list are Google Meet and Google Duo, both categorised as video calling apps. Google confirms that the feature set for Meet will be integrated within Duo, which will then be renamed to Google Meet. The timeline for the change stretches from “in the coming weeks” to “later this year”.

“As part of our continued investment in helping people stay connected, and to adapt to evolving user needs, we’re upgrading the Duo experience to include all Google Meet features. This integrated experience will provide users with a single solution for both video calling and meetings with people,” said Javier Soltero, vice-president and general manager at Google Workspace, in an official statement. It is, however, more than a simple merging of two apps to improve functionality. With Google’s apps and, in particular, how certain Android phone integrate them, the changes could be complicated.

Till now, Google has been positioning Meet as the more formal video calling solution, with meeting links, group calls and the Workspace integration as well. Duo, on the other hand, is better with more personal video chats too, including one-to-one video calls, including for phone numbers (and no need to send meeting links well in advance). Duo is also embedded within the Google Phone app, and there has also been deep integration of the video calling functionality on Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones as well OnePlus phones. How these integrations get affected by the consolidation of Meet and Duo is a bridge that we’ll definitely cross in the coming weeks.

Google Duo has always been propped as a competitor for Apple’s FaceTime video and voice calling app, as well as WhatsApp calling, while Meet was more of a Zoom or Microsoft Teams competitor. The Duo calls let you add cool filters too; not expecting these to go away. When Google completes the integration of Meet and Duo, the existing Meet app will be renamed to Meet Original and will be depreciated.

Google Meet, on its part, will bring video call tools such as virtual backgrounds, light adjustments and noise reduction to Duo’s video calls. It was in 2020 when Google made Meet available to everyone; it was earlier limited to Workspace subscriptions. This was perhaps keeping the global scenario in mind, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing everyone indoors and workplaces having to rely on video calling platforms to conduct meetings and discussions. Google Meet has since been competing against Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

There is no doubt the consolidation and subsequent reintegration within Google’s own apps (Gmail, for instance) and in Android smartphones as well as other platforms, including Google TV and Android TV, will be complicated. The trick here may be to ensure that the way to access Duo at present, particularly on phones, shouldn’t change after the merger.

The question remains – how much functionality (and subsequently habits) will Google change during the switchover? Google feels Duo’s underlying video calling technology is superior, which is why the changes are headed in that direction. But, ‘Meet’ as a name sounds better for a video calling app. The risk here is, Duo has always been a very simple app to use.

Will adding a lot of functionality make it more complex for users?


    Vishal Mathur is Technology Editor for Hindustan Times. When not making sense of technology, he often searches for an elusive analog space in a digital world.

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