Google launches Apple FaceTime killer ‘Duo’

“Google and Apple have battled each other for years for primacy over mobile users. Apple has proferred its superior devices, like the iPhone. Google has fought back with its Android operating system and a series of mobile apps ,” Brian X. Chen reports for The New York Times. “On Tuesday, Google underscored that strategy with the release of its latest mobile app: Duo, a video-calling app that is a direct alternative to Apple’s FaceTime.”

“People can only use FaceTime to call others who have Apple devices. But Duo lets you place video calls between Android and iPhone users, and sizably increases the universe of people with whom you can hold a video conversation,” Chen reports. “All of this feeds into Google’s strategy to attract iPhone users over to Android. Google’s apps generally work better on Android devices than on iPhones, so the more that people get hooked on Google’s core apps, the less incentive there is to stay loyal to Apple.”

“Last month, Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, repeatedly highlighted that the rate at which people were switching from Android-based devices to iPhones was the highest the company had seen,” Chen reports. “‘Our year-to-date iPhone sales to switchers are the greatest we’ve seen in any nine-month period,’ Mr. Cook said in the call, without disclosing precise figures.”

“For now, FaceTime is just as intuitive as Duo so I see no compelling reason to use Duo over FaceTime to call iPhone users,” Chen reports. “But if I had to video call an Android user, I would use Duo over other video-calling services like Skype or Facebook Messenger, which have more cluttered interfaces than Duo’s single-button approach.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Video calls from single-wides are set to skyrocket.

So, how long until Our Lady of Transitory Endeavor pulls the plug on this beta?

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23 Comments

  1. Right on. My kid has an old cheap alcatel android phone, total POS but he is only 10 and loves the idea that he has a *cell phone* even though it only works on home wireless.

    This should make it easier to chat with him when i’m away. At the least he’ll get a kick out of it.

    1. I’m not sure how smart that is. I totally understand the reasoning behind spending minimum on a cheap phone for a 10-year old (and I don’t want to go into the debate regarding the appropriate minimum age for a smartphone), but for me, being a father of two girls, I have serious misgivings about giving an Android to a child. The device has no built-in parental controls, not to mention there is no way for me to ensure (s)he won’t side-load apps of very questionable origin, bringing in malware of all sorts.

      When my daughters reach the age I consider appropriate for a smartphone, they will get an iPhone (perhaps a used one, three model-years old, such as 5s today), which I can completely control. I can then disable app download without my explicit approval, restrict content ratings in Safari and elsewhere, and make their initial smartphone experience a bit more controlled one.

      Even without ANY parental controls and restrictions, iPhone is still a much safer choice, as it doesn’t allow side-loading of apps from problematic sources, which prevents inadvertent installation of malware. In my school, kids (5th grade through high school) all get MacBook Airs. In my friend’s school, they get Windows. Our kids are of similar age, and while mine has had her MBA for the past four years, she has yet to encounter malware, while my friend has battled all sorts of Windows viruses over the past three years, re-formatting that laptop twice already. Android isn’t much better in the hands of kids when it comes to malware. I would rather not take that chance, just to save $50 over a used 5S.

  2. Nothing will ever be able to approach the simplicity of FaceTime, due to its deep and complete integration into the iOS. You don’t facetime people by opening FaceTime ap and looking up their names. You intuitively do that from your phone app. It is the natural thing to do: you want to call someone, you open up your phone; there, you have your speed-dial list, your last call list, and your contacts. From any one of these, you can find the person you want to call and instead of dialing their number the old-fashioned way (by tapping the phone icon), you simply tap on the FaceTime icon and the call is made. Even the ringtone (for the recipient) is the same as when getting a phone call.

    To use this ‘Duo’, you’d have to go into a different app, and that makes it no different from Skype, Viber, ooVoo, Tango, Peer, Google Hangouts… And all of those already have a long and well-established track record.

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