After years in the making (and breaking), Google confirmed earlier this month (then deleted the tweet) that screen sharing would soon be available to its Duo video calling service. The feature didn't go live immediately, but is now finally making its way to users. The server-side switch gods have deemed my husband's OnePlus 7 Pro worthy of getting it, but my Pixel 4 XL with Android 11 isn't cool enough (no, I'm not bitter). But all you need is for it to be live on one device to do the sharing, so we took it for a spin. Prepare for infinite Ritas — you've been warned.
Turning on screen sharing is as simple as tapping the overflow button (three dots) at the bottom right of the Duo screen mid call, then choosing Screen share. Since this is a server-side update, not everyone has it just yet. A pop-up will ask if you'd like to expose sensitive info during the call, choose Start now and you're good to go. What's on your screen will be shared with the other person.
The result is a funny inception while you're still in Duo, but you can easily back out of the app and use your phone as usual. The PIP window doesn't get triggered, so you can't see the other person while sharing your screen with them, but that's all for the better, since you don't want that PIP to show on their side and thus confuse them further. The only indications that you're in this mode are the red Chromecasting icon in the status bar (similar to when you're recording or casting the screen) and the Duo notification with the options to end the call or just stop the screenshare. If you choose the latter, a pop-up will ask if you'd like to go back to using your front camera. (Note: this dialog might be a result of my husband using a OnePlus 7 Pro with a pop-up camera, which needed the confirmation to spring up. Phones with no pop-up cam might not show it.)
On the recipient's end, the video will cut off momentarily to a blue screen while the sender's screen share is activated, but once everything is working, you'll see their screen and can follow along with what they're doing. The only difference is your own small video stream window is still visible to you on the top right. Of course this creates another inception-like effect for the first few seconds of the share.
And that's essentially the gist of it. In our experience, it worked well, even though we were on a slow connection. The quality should be better if you're both on a decent Wi-Fi or 4G connection.
Screen sharing is an essential part of any video calling service, not just for those who want to demo things to other participants, but also if you want to provide quick tech support to a friend or family member. I've been wanting this feature for that purpose alone, because I'm tired telling my parents "describe what you see" or "take a screenshot and send it to me" while trying to remotely help with an issue on their phone. With this, I should be able to explain how they share the screen and from then on, I can see everything and thus provide quick and frustration-free support for everyone involved.
Since this is still a server-side rollout, not everyone has the feature just yet. Both my husband and I are running Duo v105.0.331 (APK Mirror), but he has it and I don't. To raise your odds, make sure you're on this release or a newer one, and keep checking. We should all have it soon, hopefully.