Google Duo five years too late?
Flashback to June 7, 2010 for a moment. It may take a little thought to do so as it was damn near six years ago. You may not remember what the weather was like, what you wore that day, or even what devices you owned at that moment in your life. If you are a diehard techie I will tell you one thing you will remember from that day and that would be that year’s WWDC. The late and great Steve Jobs walked out on stage and unveiled the iPhone 4 in all of it’s gorgeous glory. The phone was amazingly sexy for its time and would come with one particular feature that is a staple point of the iOS experience to this day, FaceTime!
I’ve never been a huge fan of Apple and more specifically the iPhone. I’ve never personally owned an iPod, iPad, iPhone… you get the point. However, I can still love, respect, and covet many things that Apple brings to the game and one of them is FaceTime. To this day it is arguably the only intimate and painless video calling experience from a mobile standpoint. There’s no app that needs to be opened, signed into, switched over to, etc… It’s just simple and works pretty darned well. This is something that nobody since then has been able to duplicate in my humble opinion.
Enter Google Duo
Yesterday at Google I/O Google unveiled Duo which I’m sure most of you have read about at this point. In case you haven’t, Google Duo is a new video calling app that packs some really cool features. The app seems simple enough as you basically open it up, tap on a picture of your desired caller, and wait for them to pick up. From the demos it seems to be wicked fast and clear. Google claims that regardless of connection speed that it will adjust accordingly to keep the video feed rocking. As most good apps are these days, Google Duo is of course cross-platform and will be offered on both Android and iOS (sorry Windows users). Last but certainly not least, Duo packs the ability to seamlessly jump from Wi-Fi to cellular signals freely without dropping the call. Sounds great so far right?
Now let’s put the thought of Google Duo to the side for a second and flashback again to about three years ago as Google finally attempted to reign in several services and stick them within one app called Hangouts. Most of you have used it and know full well what it is. Some love it and others claim it to be a dumpster fire of an experience that needs to die. Regardless of your thoughts on Hangouts, it also offers video calls and is a cross-platform experience! So what will become of Hangouts? The answer so far is that it will stick around…
The elephant in the room
Can Google actually make Duo a success or will this be yet another soon to be ignored and/or killed off service to add to the long list of failed services under their belt like Google Wave? It’s entirely too early to tell at this point but here are a couple things that will ensure it’s survival and possibly its widespread adaptation. First and foremost would be that they need to make this a painless service to use like that of FaceTime. I don’t want to have to open the freaking app or sign into something every time I need to use it! If I can hop over from a phone conversation directly into a Duo call like iOS users can do with FaceTime I’m sold. Next up, they need to push it without coming off as forcing it on their users like they did back in the day with Buzz. The last thing they can do to make sure that Duo sticks around is to stand by it to the bitter end. Don’t back out on it or kick it to the side in hopes that it may one day take off like they have with Google+.
In the end I liked what I saw today and I sincerely hope that Google can finally deliver an answer to FaceTime. Even better than that, I hope they deliver on a truly ubiquitous answer to FaceTime. It’s 2016 for crying out loud and at this point we should have a video calling service that is used like the average phone call! Let’s just hope that they aren’t too late to the game as Apple set the proverbial measuring stick some five years ago and it will be six years by the time Duo drops this summer. If they stick to their guns though they just might have a winner here. What do you think?