Hangouts has been pronounced dead uncountable times, but Google's ill-fated attempt at an instant messaging service is kicking and fighting its demise. Now Google has taken another step to replace its old messenger with Meet and Chat, as group video calls have become unavailable on Android and the web following the latest app update.
Google Duo has added more than a few fun face effects over the past few months, including a scarecrow for Halloween, a cat, and even a cactus (we're still not sure about that last one). Now another face filter has arrived, this time featuring a splash of capitalism.
We aren't at the point yet where every Android phone is able to transcribe voice calls in real time, but what Google is doing with its video chat service Duo is a good first step: the app is now enabling captions for recorded voice and video messages.
Back in November 2019, Google reworked Duo's in-call interface and moved the controls to the bottom, making them more easily accessible on larger screens. Surprisingly, when the change rolled out to all users, the video off toggle vanished from the bottom bar and was nowhere to be found. After being gone for months, Google appears to be gradually bringing it back, letting you turn your camera off during a call.
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.
In any friend or family group, there's always that one person everyone forgets to invite to events. A birthday party without cousin Jamie, a friendly catch-up call without Billie the wallflower, or a department-wide happy hour video chat without LarryJerryTerry Garry, all of these could be a thing of the past if you use Google Duo. The service now lets you add forgotten people to a group call after starting it.
As part of today's Pixel 4a festivities, Google has also announced a new feature that's coming to older Pixels as well. Remember Google's Live Caption feature that transcribes speech in real-time, on-device, for things like videos? Well, Live Caption will now also work for video and voice calls — more useful than ever in these socially distant times.
Google currently has two video chat services, Duo and Meet. Duo is specifically a calling application, originally intended to be used alongside the now-defunct Allo messaging service, and Meet is a video conferencing utility. However, the two services have started to become more alike over the past few months, and a new report says the services may eventually merge.