Zoom who? Google Duo just got a huge upgrade with tons of new features

Google Duo
(Image credit: Google)

Now that more and more people are staying home, Google Duo wants to make sure it remains competitive among the best video chat apps to keep people connected. To that end, Google announced that Duo is rolling out four new features, which include an increase in a video call's maximum group size.

Google Duo was already a popular app for video calls, especially on Android devices (it's also available on iOS). In a blog post, Google boasted that Duo is growing even more — over 10 million new people are signing up for the service every week. In many countries, call minutes have increased by more than ten-fold. You may be among those millions who have recently learned how to use Google Duo.

But Google Duo needs to evolve to keep up with the likes of Zoom and Skype. The first new feature to roll out is the ability to take a side-by-side snapshot of the participants in a current call. This is done through Duo moments, so you must have that setting enabled. The composite snapshot is different from a screenshot you take with your phone, since a screenshot will only display the participants in view. 

Then, in the next week, Duo will introduce a new video codec technology to improve call quality and reliability, even if you're on low bandwidth. After that, Google Duo will upgrade its messaging system, which allows you to send video and voice messages when you can't talk live. Soon, you'll have the option to automatically save  messages instead of having them expire after 24 hours. 

The last, but not least, new feature is that Google Duo will again expand video call group size. It recently upped the number of callers from eight to 12. Now, they're increasing it from 12 to an undetermined larger number. Google said the service has experienced an eight-fold increase in group calls. Forget Zoom happy hour; it's time for a Google Duo  party.

With everyone staying at home and subject to quarantine regulations, video calling apps and video conferencing services have experienced a huge surge in demand. To attract these new users, many are rolling out improvements and upgrades. A recent WhatsApp beta release doubles the the maximum number of people on video calls. Google Meet added gallery view, one of Zoom's best features. And Zoom privacy and security issues are being addressed by that company.

Kelly Woo
Streaming Editor

Kelly is the streaming channel editor for Tom’s Guide, so basically, she watches TV for a living. Previously, she was a freelance entertainment writer for Yahoo, Vulture, TV Guide and other outlets. When she’s not watching TV and movies for work, she’s watching them for fun, seeing live music, writing songs, knitting and gardening.