Google’s new video chat app is pretty pointless

Google is taking on Apple’s FaceTime with a new video chat platform that works on both iOS and Android phones.

The messaging platform wars continue, and Google is expanding their portfolio with a new bare-bones video chat app called Duo.

Duo is available in the iOS App Store and on Google Play, offering full cross-platform video chat between iPhone and Android users. That’s cool, but it’s certainly not the first such service to accomplish that feat.

Google Duo

Google launches their new video chat service called Duo, an attempt to take on Apple’s FaceTime. (Credit: Google)

Yes, Apple’s FaceTime is restricted to Mac and iOS users — but Microsoft’s Skype and Facebook’s Messenger aren’t. And the odds pretty good that your family and friends already have one of those apps installed.

Plus, Google already has a pretty robust video chat offering built into Hangouts.

So what makes Duo worth paying attention to?

The company is touting a featured called “Knock Knock” as one area of big improvement over some of the competition.

Knock Knock allows the person receiving a video call to see a preview of the person calling them before they pick up. Think of it like peeking through a digital peep hole before you agree to open the door.

Beyond that, there’s not much else that really makes Duo stand out from the pack of existing messaging services.

A very limited offering — at least at launch  — the app only works on smart phones, a bummer for those who like to video conference from their laptops or tablets.

Nathan Olivarez-Giles sums it up in the Wall Street Journal: “If you absolutely desire a stripped-down video-chat app, and think you can convince others to download one more messaging app, Duo is good enough for a look. Just don’t expect it to replace your other messaging apps.”

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