Google Duo is getting an update today, and you'll actually see some changes if you install it, even though it's really just to remove colors from the Settings screen. However, a teardown shows there's actually a lot more coming in the future, including the ability to block email, a data saver mode, and maybe even the ability to show previously recorded videos to other people while you're on a call.

What's New

Unofficial Changelog: (the stuff we found)

  • Colors begone!

Settings screen loses its colors

Left: v42. Right: v43.

We've seen it happen to almost every other app, and Duo is joining the trend. The brand colors have been removed from the notification and title bars on the Settings screen. The only remaining color on the screen is the button for linking or unlinking your Google account.

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 wrong or inaccurate. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that products could change or may be canceled. 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. All screenshots and images are real unless otherwise stated, and images are only altered to remove personal information.

Data Saving mode

It appears Duo will be adding a mode that will drop the video resolution on a call to reduce the amount of data used. Naturally, this will be good for people making video calls over cellular lines or using slow or metered Wi-Fi.

<string name="pref_data_saver_title">Data Saving mode</string>
<string name="pref_data_saver_switch_sub_title">Turn on to save data by lowering the video resolution for everyone on the call</string>
<string name="pref_data_saver_off_sub_title">Off (default)</string>
<string name="pref_data_saver_parent_key">data_saver_parent_preference</string>
<string name="pref_data_saver_toggle_key">data_saver_toggle_preference</string>excerpt from /xml/preferences.xml
<Preference android:title="@string/pref_data_saver_title" android:key="@string/pref_data_saver_parent_key"/>

Be aware, this is not the same as the "Limit mobile data usage" toggle that was already present in the Settings screen. This toggle has been there for a while, though it won't appear on phones when there's no SIM card inserted — that's why the screenshots above don't show it.

So far, the Data Saving mode isn't live for me, and even turning on Data Saver mode on the phone doesn't trigger it, so we'll probably have to wait a bit longer to see this roll out.

Also, as an aside, note that the line explaining the Data Saving mode uses the word 'everyone' to describe who is affected. It's not that we didn't already know group calling was on the way to Duo, but this little detail shows that the language is adjusting in preparation for group calling.

Block by email

Google Duo added the ability to block phone numbers a long time ago, but now that we can make calls to people based on their email address (read: Google account), we'll need the ability to block both types of calls. It doesn't appear to be live yet, but we'll be able to block people by email address soon enough.

<string name="contact_action_block_email">Block email</string>

A single line of text has been added, and this will cover the action users take to block text. However, there doesn't appear to be a title for a screen or section of the current "Blocked numbers" list where we'll be able to go in to remove email addresses from the blocked list, so this feature probably won't actually go live until a future update rolls out.

Playing videos during a call

Sometimes you can't be on a call when something great happens, but you might still be able to capture a video. If you'd still like to share an experience and don't want to go through the hassle of sharing a video through Photos or another method, Google Duo might be making that a bit easier.

A new line was added that asks users to choose a video from their camera roll. To put it simply, there aren't a lot of reasons for a line like this to exist besides either playing a video during a live call or sending a pre-recorded video message.

<string name="choose_video_from_camera_roll_text">Choose video from camera roll</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 days, download and install it just like any other APK.