Google hasn't had much of an interest in Android tablets since the days of the Motorola XOOM and Android Honeycomb. As a result, most of the company's apps aren't designed with tablets in mind, and third-party applications have largely followed suit. Sure, Android tablets can technically run all Android apps, but many of them have stretched-out layouts that were intended for 6-inch screens. Some even force a portrait orientation (Google Tasks, I'm looking at you).
The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent quarantine it caused have made video calling services a mainstay of every household. While Zoom's popularity has skyrocketed, other services have done their best to catch up. Google's Duo added more features than we can count over the past few months, and upped the group call limit from 8 to 12 in March. That capacity has now been increased again to 32.
Google has made good on its earlier promise to expand the number of participants in Duo video calls. Support for up to 32-person calls is now rolling out for Duo on Chrome, ramping up the platform's ability to scale to compete with Zoom calls.
The last few months have seen a skyrocketing use of video calling, be it for work or personal communication. Some services, like Zoom or Google Meet, made joining calls easier for groups of people by simply sharing a link, and now Duo is catching up to them.
Since its launch in 2016, Google Duo has used end-to-end encryption for calls, messages, notes, and all kinds of communications carried through it. That encryption is one of the reasons we recommend using Duo to catch up with friends and family, but most users may not be aware of it. Now Google is boasting this privacy-centric approach for everyone to see, and while it's at it, it added the option to send more emojis to your contacts.
Last week, Google Duo started rolling out a long-awaited feature that let others reach you over your email address, which meant you didn't have to share your phone number with anyone you wanted to video call. When we covered the news, we tried setting up Duo from scratch using only an email address, but discovered we still needed a phone number for the first sign-up. It turns out there's a nuance: you do need a phone number on phones, but not on tablets.
With the latest version of Google Duo, the video calling service is adding several features that were either officially announced or secretly unearthed, including a new family mode and some timely filters. The most interesting of these additions, however, is the option to make yourself reachable over email, and thus remove the need to share your phone numbers with others to allow them to call you.
Reports of Duo's death have been greatly exaggerated. The app has continued to receive new features and improvements over the past year, and seemingly no longer requires a phone number. Now there's a new feature you can try out: drawing notes.
Out of all the messaging and communication apps Google published, Duo has arguably become one of the most successful and widely known one. It comes as no surprise that the company is trying to spread the video telephony app even further after integrating it into its Messages service and OnePlus' Phone app. Samsung appears to be the next partner in Google's quest to intertwine Duo with more OEM software.