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Jun 2, 2022

Google To Combine Meet, Duo Into a Single App

As a frequent user of Google’s Duo, I was a bit disappointed to read this announcement:

Note: Google’s app called Duo (today) is much like Apple’s FaceTime except that it works on both Android and Apple iOS phones. I find it to be very useful for communicating with others, regardless of which brand of cell phone they have. Unfortunately, Apple’s FaceTime only works on Apple hardware.

Google announced today that it’s combining two of its video-calling apps, Duo and Meet, into a single platform. The Verge reports:

Pretty soon, there will be only Google Meet, and Google’s hoping it can be the one calling app users need for just about everything in their lives. By bringing them both together, Google’s hoping it can solve some of what ails modern communication tools. […] Over the last couple of years in particular, Meet has become a powerful platform for meetings and group chats of all kinds, while Duo has stayed more of a messaging app. Google promises it’s bringing all of Duo’s features to Meet going forward and seems convinced it can offer the best of both worlds.

It’s not quite right to say that Duo’s being killed, though. The app, which Google originally launched in 2016 as an easy way to make one-to-one video calls, does a number of useful things that Meet doesn’t. For one thing, you can call someone directly — including with their phone number — rather than relying on sending links or hitting that giant Meet button in your Google Calendar invite. Duo has always been more like FaceTime than Zoom in that sense. (Google also launched an iMessage competitor, Allo, at the same time as Duo. Allo didn’t turn out so great.)

As the two services become one, Google is leaning on Duo’s mobile app as the default. Pretty soon, the Duo app will get an update that brings an onslaught of Meet features into the platform; later this year, the Duo app will be renamed Google Meet. The current Meet app will be called “Meet Original,” and eventually deprecated. This sounds… confusing, but Google claims it’s the best way forward.

I’ll withhold final judgement about the wisdom of this move until I have a chance to use the new Google Duo/Meet. However, I do have some reservations.