Google Duo - simple video calling

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Google Duo - simple video calling App Poster Image
Cross-platform video calls simple, seen before.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Created for entertainment and not with educational intent.

Ease of Play

Easy interface takes only a few taps to connect with friends regardless of device platform.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Google Duo is a video-chat app that works across device platforms (such as iOS and Android). Users connect using a phone number and have the option to import contacts and invite them to use the app, though they can also dial phone numbers outside their contacts. Dozens of languages are supported, and users can connect using cellular data or Wi-Fi. The privacy policy outlines the information collected and how it's used.

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What's it about?

After downloading GOOGLE DUO, you connect a cellular phone number to the service. Users can choose whether or not to access contacts or receive push notifications, and then they're set to go. From contacts, they can invite friends to download the app or dial numbers directly. The Knock Knock feature (which can be turned off in settings) lets users see the live video as they receive calls from contacts. Note that iOS users can't use Knock Knock from the lock screen as Android users can. Users can block numbers, limit mobile data usage, and unregister their number from within the app.

Is it any good?

Though there are other similar services available, this one attempts originality in that it's cross-platform and uses end-to-end encryption, which protects your submissions in transit. Video-chatting isn't restricted to users with the same device, but it's only available on mobile and not web. Getting set up is a cinch, and that's the most challenging part of the whole process. Once users complete the phone number verification, they can connect with contacts with one tap. While those connections are restricted to others on mobile devices with the app, they can seamlessly move from Wi-Fi to data connections without dropping a call. FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Skype all offer similar functionality, so there's nothing new happening here; while its simplicity and iOS-to-Android connection set it slightly apart, some might miss the more extensive features of other services, such as group calling and screen sharing. Since you can only call people you know and there's no contact with strangers, it's relatively safe for kids to use with parental supervision.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the pros and cons of video-chatting with Google Duo or any chatting app. While it's a fabulous way to connect with friends and family, teens must be careful and understand that what they share may not always be totally private.

  • Talk to kids about social media basics from an early age, even when they're kids video-chatting with grandparents.

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