Google’s video calling application Duo is now gaining support on a wider variety of Chrome OS devices, based on user reports spotted on Reddit. Users indicate the app is working on Acer’s 2016 Chromebook R13 and Google’s Pixelbook. Android Headlines was able to verify that Duo both installs and works on the original Samsung Chromebook Plus as well. So it appears to be usable on any Chrome OS laptop or tablet with Google Play Store enabled, although it may take some time for the changes to the apps listing to hit every user. To get started, the Google Duo application needs to be installed from the Play Store and users need to link a Google account to the phone app. That can be accomplished by tapping the three-dot menu in the phone version of Duo, followed by ‘Settings’ and a tap on the ‘Google Account’ option.
Background: The Duo application was initially launched at Google I/O 2016 as a direct competitor to Skype. At the same time, a text-focused chat application called Allow was launched and the pair was intended to be a consumer replacement to the Hangouts application. That’s following a decision to shift Hangouts in an enterprise-centric direction as part of the G Suite tools on offer from Google. Duo differentiates itself from other applications with a “knock knock” feature that shows the recipient of a call a preview of the caller in real-time and works with both phone numbers and Google accounts. Since launch, it has received several stability updates but has remained a less popular option due to the lack of web client and cross-platform compatibility features found in Skype, Hangouts, and others alternatives.
Support for a select few Chromebooks was actually added this summer, with app compatibility for Duo added for the Samsung Chromebook Plus V2, HP Chromebook x2, and Acer Chromebook Tab 10. According to the changelog for the most recent Duo update, Android tablets are also supported as of today. That was enabled by the changes that allow the application to work as closely with a Google account as it does a phone number. What’s more, Duo lead engineer Justin Uberti recently revealed that the missing extra features are on the way and will be added in a future update. Group calls will reportedly be among those features and, speculatively, support for Google’s Smart Display platform will be among supported platforms in the future. Integration with Google Assistant would likely follow from that because the platform depends so heavily on the AI’s voice controls.
Impact: The ability to make calls with a Google-built solution outside of Hangouts arguably helps to make Chrome OS a much more complete platform. That should in turn help to make the service and application more popular. Duo currently has more than 500 million ‘downloads’ from the Play Store but many of those from devices that came with Duo pre-installed and the figure doesn’t show how many are actually using it. The addition of support for more platforms will widen both Duo’s available audience and the breadth of situations where the free service can be used. As a result, both users that have the app from a pre-installation and those that don’t will likely be more inclined to use it. Future updates adding more features, a web client, and better call quality should only serve to strengthen that growing user base.