The latest version of Duo began rolling out to users this morning, but there haven't been any visible changes popping up in the live app. As is tradition, especially with Duo, a teardown does turn up a few of the changes we can look forward to in the future. This time, we're looking at yet another camera effect, but this one may actually stick around and make it to users. There is also follow-up on some previous camera effects and the voicemail / videomail feature discussed in previous teardowns.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are totally and completely wrong. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that plans could change or may be canceled entirely. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk.

Drishti effect

The Duo team has been internally testing a number of effects and adjustments to the image fed through the camera, but so far they've been off limits to the public. It's not surprising since most of these settings would be inconvenient and very fiddly to work with during a video chat, they're really better handled automatically. However, there might be a more user-friendly effect coming to Duo that may finally make it to users, and it's called Drishti.

<string name="pref_drishti_processing_effect_title">Drishti processing effect</string>
<string name="pref_drishti_processing_effect_dlg">Enter drishti processing effect</string>
<string name="pref_drishti_processing_effect_key">drishti_processing_effect_preference</string>
<string name="pref_drishti_processing_effect_default">none</string>

If the name Drishti sounds familiar, the word means 'vision' in Hindi, and can be found mentioned in yoga, though it is also the name of a piece of software for data visualization. In either case, the main concept is about maintaining focus on the subject.

There are currently three options for this mode: None, Auto, and Manual. I've tried enabling each, but see no difference in the results. It's the presence of an Auto mode that leads me to think this may turn into a user-facing feature.

How would this look as a camera effect? I can't answer that yet with confidence. Based on the previous tests with camera settings, my suspicion is that Drishti mode will tweak camera settings to make members of a video chat stand out in the image. Automatic mode would probably detect and focus on faces, which could obviously take advantage of Google's Mobile Vision technologies, and the Manual mode might even allow members of the video chat to choose a point in the shot to highlight. Who knows, the team might even be playing with techniques to isolate subjects in an image... /cough. Again, this is mostly speculation and may turn out very differently, or this might be yet another experiment that won't reach the general public.

Drishti strings
<array name="drishtiProcessingEffects">
<item>none</item>
<item>bcs_adjust_auto</item>
<item>bcs_adjust_manual</item>
</array>

<ListPreference android:entries="@array/drishtiProcessingEffects" android:layout="@layout/settings_preference" android:title="@string/pref_drishti_processing_effect_title" android:key="@string/pref_drishti_processing_effect_key" android:defaultValue="@string/pref_drishti_processing_effect_default" android:dialogTitle="@string/pref_drishti_processing_effect_dlg" android:entryValues="@array/drishtiProcessingEffects" />

Follow-up: Exposure compensation, White balance, and Color effects removed

While we're on the subject of camera effects, it's worth noting that three of the previously covered effects have been removed: Exposure compensation, White balance, and Color effects. As I just said above, it's pretty obvious that these aren't going to be great for users to change manually, however experimentation with these effects likely brought about Drishti mode.

Brightness, Contrast, and Saturation settings are still present, but remain hidden from view.

Re-record video mail

Another result of the Duo v21 teardown was an upcoming feature for sending audio or video messages to other people separate from a video call. Basically, voicemail, but with video. While it's fairly obvious you will be able to back out of sending a recorded message, the latest update adds a re-record button that should streamline the process of starting over if the first attempt to record a message goes sideways.

<string name="button_re_record_message">Re-record</string>

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take day download and install it just like any other APK.

Version: 23.0.177039303.DR23_RC12

Google Duo
Google Duo
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free