Better Late Than Never: Home Speakers Now Getting Google Duo Calls

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Support for audio-only calls powered by Google Duo is now making its way to select members of the firm's Home-branded series of smart speakers. Several users reported encountering the functionality yesterday, with the service seemingly offering identical capabilities to its previously released and somewhat modified version made for the Home Hub, Google's first smart display and up until recently, the only gadget without a camera supported by Duo.

Duo integration still doesn't appear to be live on a global level and as Google has yet to officially acknowledge the rollout, the latest development may only be an indication of some kind of beta testing taking place. Alphabet's subsidiary never directly said the Home Hub's Duo port will be making its way to other products from its portfolio but it presumably doesn't need to invest much in order to make that transition happen, with potential benefits of the move hence far outweighing associated risks.

Eligible users will be able to initiate Duo calls on Google Home, Home Mini, and other speakers from the same lineup by simply instructing one of their gadgets to do so. E.g. a command worded as "Duo, call Speaker Two" should work, though some users already reported issues with the functionality and had to resort to going through the setup process again.

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Besides resetting their Home speakers, some had to reauthorize their Duo apps and it wasn't until then that they were able to link them to Google's audio service. Support for international calls doesn't appear to be part of the package but the newly expanded functionality should at least work between one's own speakers anywhere in the world.

Google's communications solutions for smart homes are still somewhat behind those of its largest rival – Amazon. The Seattle-based juggernaut started commercializing similar technologies a year and a half back, having already integrated them into its Alexa app for both Android and iOS.

Users lucky enough to be able to choose between Duo calls and solutions like VoLTE should also find the former to be an option that delivers better-quality sound with comparable consistency. If for any reason you want to keep your phone number away from your speakers, Google isn't forcing the newly launched Duo-Home integration upon anyone. In fact, it appears the very process of setting it up requires you to list yourself as a contact, which is something not everyone does and certainly wouldn't be a requirement to using the service if Google wanted to get it out to as many people as possible in the short term.

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Several months back, Duo also received support for contemporary video messages and remains among the most popular telecom apps on the Google Play Store. The company will hence certainly be looking to keep it regularly updated over the course of this year and beyond, especially given how it's now banking on its omnipresent software to push its fledgling hardware unit.