Google Duo recently celebrated its third birthday, but instead of chilling on the beach with margaritas and a big celebratory cake, the team is still hard at work adding new features. The latest version of Duo brings a few changes that didn't show up right away, but seem to have needed a server-side switch to be enabled. Chief amongst them is the new low light mode in video calls.
Low light mode
First discovered in a teardown of the Duo app last November, then spotted in action thanks to an anonymous source, low light mode is exactly that. It lets you improve the brightness of your stream when you're in a dark environment, likely by bumping up the exposure a little. There's a dedicated button during video calls — tapping it reloads your stream in a second with a brighter tone. When I tested it, my contact asked if I turned on the light, so the effect is definitely noticeable.
Google says it implemented the feature to help people video call in poor lighting, whether they live somewhere where electricity isn't cheap, like to say goodnight to each other before falling asleep, or enjoy chatting while remotely watching TV shows together. The lighting will automatically adjust depending on your surroundings so if you move to a brighter room, the other person won't be blinded by your video stream.
Notice my face in the bottom left with low light mode off (left) then on (right).
You should be getting an on-screen suggestion when you're in a dark environment to turn the mode on, but I couldn't get that to pop up. In settings, you'll also find a toggle for low light mode, but again, that didn't seem to make a difference. The button was still there while chatting and it worked regardless. Maybe the feature is still rolling out and isn't working right just yet.
Setting to automatically adjust low light mode in dark environments.
Pin to homescreen
Duo already lets you add shortcuts to some contacts on your homescreen, but the way to go about it is to tap and hold on the app icon, hope that the contact you want is among the three or four app shortcut options, then tap and hold to move it to your homescreen. It's a little unintuitive for most users.
Now, Duo will suggest adding contacts to your homescreen right after you're done talking to them. It doesn't happen after every call with every person though, so watch out for it and accept it when it pops up. It creates a 1x1 shortcut that will be placed on your homescreen. There's no other manual option to pin contacts in Duo, neither in the overflow nor by tapping and holding, so for now, you're at the mercy of the capricious pop-up.
Pop-up suggesting to add a contact to your homescreen.
Call history deletion
The last change in Duo 60 is the option to delete call history per contact. The app will double check that you want to do that. When approved, Duo will remove your past communications from its logs and the contact will move down from the recently-called cluster on top. However, beware that if Duo is set to sync its call logs with the Phone app on your phone, the history will still be visible there. You'll need to delete it from the Phone app as well.
Deleting Duo history with a contact.
Duo v60 is already live on the Play Store, though the three different features may be slowly rolling out, server-side, to users. The best you can do is grab the app and check it in a couple of days to see if you have them.
- Henny Roggy