Google never had an inspiring track record when it came to messaging platforms, offering multiple services and apps at the same time, much to the confusion of users. To be fair, the company does try to eventually consolidate those apps, but that only works until it stumbles onto the next great idea and repeats the cycle anew. For now, Google seems to be fully on board with RCS for text-based communication, even going as far as launching a campaign to pressure Apple into finally supporting the protocol. When it comes to video chat, however, it is shaping Google Meet to be the one video calling service to rule them all, and it has already started the somewhat confusing process that will erase Google Duo’s existence from the Internet.
Google Duo began as an obvious attempt to compete with Apple’s FaceTime, providing an easy-to-use service for one-on-one video calls that worked on both phones and computers. It eventually gained more features like group calls, but its core focus of nearly instantaneous video chats remained the same. Over time, however, the needs of people changed, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when video calls became more complicated. Google Meet rose to be the standard bearer, taking on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, and it no longer made sense for Google Duo to exist.
Last June, Google announced that it would essentially retire Google Duo, but in an almost roundabout way: it will be bringing all of Google Meet’s features into Google Duo, but also rebranding Google Duo to Google Meet. That dance began a few weeks back, but the story doesn’t end there.
Google Meet gets new features
While Google Duo is starting to disappear from phones, Google Meet is gaining a few new features that will help make group meetings less stressful, Google announced on its blog. For one, you can instantly start a video call with a group, a convenience that Google Duo was known for as long as the contact is in one’s address book. You can choose your background before you jump on a call, and once inside, you have all of the Meet facilities available, such as chat and captions.
The bigger news is that Google Meet is getting a live sharing functionality that lets participants become more active in a call. Everyone will be able to control a YouTube video or help curate a Spotify playlist — this can even be useful for interactive video calls, like when playing games during an ice breaker. Of course, that also works for the less fun content being shared, like presentations and other interactive content.
Google Duo users shouldn’t be surprised that the app is changing its name and icon to Google Meet. This new Meet app will have all of the original Meet’s features plus Duo’s unique functions, like making instant video calls using people’s phone numbers or email addresses. Google Meet users, on the other hand, can continue using the existing app, the name and icon of which will become Google Meet (Original). Users are, however, advised to use the updated Meet app instead if they want to have the combined powers of Meet and Duo at their fingertips.