If 1950's science fiction has taught me anything, it's that video calling is supposed to be the future. Today Google announced in a blog post that we're one step closer to that vision of reality. Integrated video calling (via Duo or ViLTE) is rolling out to first-generation Pixel, Android One, and Nexus devices, via the Phone, Contacts, and Android Messages apps. No schedule yet for ray-gun or jetpack integration.
If this all sounds familiar, it's because we talked about it just a few days ago when more hints of it started appearing in the dialer and messages apps, following a teardown we did that indicated the feature was coming. Ever since Duo calls started showing up in call history, we've had our suspicions.
We tried the new integration out for ourselves, via the latest versions of both Duo and the Phone app, and it works. If you have a contact that has Duo installed and associated with a phone number, the icon to call them over video should appear in both your call history and search, though one of my contacts with Duo didn't show the option.
According to Google, the option should also be appearing in the Contacts and Android Messages apps. I don't see it yet in the Android Messages app, myself, but it is present for me in Contacts. The blog post is also clear that the roll-out is just starting, so YMMV.
As we noted in our previous coverage, the icon for video calls was already showing up for some people in a few different places. But, now we're actually able to use it. Before this, it didn't actually work.
Google claims that the new video call integration functions via either Google's Duo or ViLTE — if your carrier happens to support it. T-Mobile happens to be a ViLTE-compatible carrier, but in our tests between two phones on T-Mobile, video calls still just opened the Duo app. Whether Duo is using ViLTE or not, I couldn't be sure, as the differences in appearance or functionality from a user standpoint weren't immediately clear.
Google also plans on further expanding this functionality later this year to allow for ongoing voice calls to switch to video as well, as we noticed in our time with the Pixel 2 at Google's event.
If Google has its way, it seems like we'll be spending a lot more time face-to-face. Still no flying cars, though.