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Google's new video chat app does less than the one it already has



Today, Google's approach to mobile chat got even more complicated. Its new video call app, Duo, is now rolling out to phones everywhere, and the search giant seems to give zero Googles that it's stepping all over Hangouts, Google's years-old text and video chat app.

The good news: Yay, more apps!

The confusing part: What am I going to do with two Google video chat apps?

Things Duo can't do

Though Duo and Hangouts both do video calls, Hangouts connects people by Gmail accounts (formerly known as Google+ accounts). Duo uses phone numbers to call people (though you're connected through cell data or wifi; no minutes from you cellular plan are used).

Hangouts can also do group video calls, calls across computers and mobile devices, gives the option to text-chat during a video call, and has a plethora of fun Snapchat-like effects you can overlay on yourself during your call -- all things Duo can't do.


With its lack of features and total focus on video, a call with my dog looked, eh, slightly sharper on Google's new video app than it did on Hangouts.

So, why use Duo?

Well, it is simple: You open the app and only your ready-for-the-camera live selfie and call buttons are on the screen. To that end, Google touts Duo as the app that "takes the complexity out of video calling." That's accurate, but FaceTime pretty much does that, too.

Also, unlike Hangouts, Duo is end-to-end encrypted. So if you have secrets, this is the Google video chat app you want to use.

Duo's Knock Knock feature, which shows you the incoming caller live on your screen while your phone is ringing, is a nice flare.

Do you video call?

You can try Duo for yourself right now; grab it for your iPhone or Android from the App Store or Google Play.

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