Google launches Duo, its cross-platform answer to FaceTime, for Android and iOS

The no-frills FaceTime competitor is simple to use and gives you a peek at the video right from your lock screen.

After we saw a sneak peak of Duo earlier this year, Google’s straightforward, cross-platform video calling app is now ready for the masses. Google Duo launched on Tuesday and is here to do battle with FaceTime and Skype, giving the Mountain View behemoth a potentially stronger competitor than the woefully underperforming Hangouts.

Google first showed off Duo at its I/O conference in May, promising that the new app would be very simple and focus more on the human element by offering you a live view of the video before answering the call, thanks to the Knock Knock feature.

google duo call

The Knock Knock feature gives you a live video of the caller before you answer.

In the launch announcement, Google says that all calls with Duo are end-to-end encrypted. Beyond that, the app is very simple by design, without any additional connections to messaging or other Google services. For a deeper dive, you can check out the obligatory YouTube video with lots of happy people.

Duo is available now in the App Store and Google Play Store.

Why this matters: Hangouts has long been a mess, offering a buggy and inconsistent experience for video calling and messaging. Duo is the first of Google’s new, well, duo of apps designed to remedy this. Allo is an iMessage-style app that should also launch soon, promising to bring you cross-platform messaging bliss with the smarts of the new Google Assistant.

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