Android users no longer need a phone number to make Google Duo video calls on tablets. That's based on widespread reports following an update that's rolling out to eliminate the requirement. Prior to this, Android tablets and other non-phone devices needed a phone number registered to complete calls.
Now, this update doesn't appear to apply to smartphones. That means users will still need to provide the phone number to use the app. But it does apply to Chromebooks and other Chrome OS gadgets such as the newly launched Lenovo Chromebook Duet.
That means that users outside of the Android mobile phone ecosystem or those who don't have a SIM-enabled tablet or computer can make video calls too. And, as with the mobile platform, up to 12 participants are able to take part. Phone calls made without a phone number do still feature one requirement though. Google Duo does still require a Google account — since calls without a number are made via Gmail.
Google Duo was already pulling ahead before Android tablets were supported
There may also be other areas where Google Duo will work without a phone number too, aside from Android tablets, following this update. That would apply specifically to Google Home and Nest Home hub devices. But it isn't immediately clear whether that's the case. Regardless, the decision to eliminate the requirement should still help cement the app as one of the best video calling apps around on mobile.
That's because Duo was already making significant headway on the shoulders of several other recent updates. For instance, the company recently pushed the app in a web format for use in any browser.
But that stacks atop any number of other improvements driven by AI and the need to help more users connect at once. To begin with, Google Duo supports up to 12 participants as of late March. And the app also now includes a feature that utilizes AI to reduce and even hide audio technical issues while in a video call.
The latter of those features was introduced in early April and utilizes a solution called WaveNetEQ. It was, perhaps unsurprisingly, developed by a Google team that's already been noted to create much more complex solutions. Namely, that's a team from DeepMind, which has also been behind research into AI detection of certain cancers and other diseases.
This is available now
As with many Google apps, the update here should be rolling out fairly quickly. So users who already have an Android tablet with Duo installed will want to ensure they've updated their Duo app to the latest version — or install it if they haven't already. Presumably, this will be a server-side update but it still helps to have the latest version installed.
Once the update arrives, a notification will be displayed at the bottom of the app's home page UI. That informs users that their email address can now be used by others to contact them for Duo video calls. From there, it's just a matter of making a phone call or letting friends and family know that's a viable contact method.