Google Assistant is a quirky little helper. It can grab a feed from your security camera and livestream it on your TV, but for the longest time, it wasn't able to send a message on Allo or start a video call on Duo, Google's own services. The latter is starting to change now, though we knew this was bound to happen with the launch of Smart Displays getting closer.

With Google Assistant on your phone, you can say "video call contact_name" and Assistant will reply, saying it's making a video call on Duo. (If you don't have the app installed or if the contact doesn't have Duo, you may see Hangouts being invoked instead.)

Both Scott and I tried it, we get the same answer card and Google Duo is immediately opened afterward. The difference is that for Scott, Duo does actually make the call, whereas for me, the app stays open but no call is initiated. I tried it repeatedly to no avail.

 

Video calling a contact should invoke Duo, but sometimes it gets sent to Hangouts.

Perhaps the feature is still rolling out now, perhaps it requires a certain server-side switch from Duo or the Google app or Play Services, and perhaps it's only working in certain locales (Scott is in the UK, I'm in Lebanon, but our devices are set to English). We can't tell for sure where or how this is working, but do give it a try and let us know.

As a side note, the Google Assistant settings have started showing a renamed Voice and Video calls section where you can link up your Google Duo account. It should technically be related to the feature above, even if the description only mentions Smart Displays, but neither Scott nor I see this setting yet. (Thanks, Nick Cipriani!)

A new setting for video calls on Assistant might be related to this feature.

As with many Google Assistant features, we're not sure for how long this has been working. The support documentation was recently changed to mention video calls, and all forum threads asking about the feature were previously told this wasn't possible. So we're inclined to think it's new.

Justin Uberti just confirmed that this feature is new and requires Google Duo v37 (APK Mirror) to work. However, I still can't get it to make the call, even though I'm on that version. Justin says he'll have more to share on the topic, so we hope we'll get more details soon.

Google posted a GIF to show off the feature: