Google Meet and Duo will finally become a single video chat app

Google’s long rumor Duo and Google Meet merger actually happens. Google officially confirmed the move on June 1, explaining in a blog post that the goal is to create a “one-stop video communication service” and that the Duo brand will disappear in favor of Google Meet.

As the Google Duo brand dies, it sounds like the Duo code base will live on as the basis for the new Google Meet. Google says “the existing Duo video calling features are here to stay” and that “in the coming weeks, we’ll be adding all Google Meet features to the Duo app, so users can easily schedule a meeting.” video at a time that works for everyone, or continue to use video calling to instantly connect with one person or a group. Later this year, we’re renaming the Duo app to Google Meet, our unique video communication service on Google, accessible to everyone free of charge.

The move comes after Google unified its communication teams under Google Workspace VP and GM Javier Soltero (Google’s blog author) in 2020. Google didn’t specify which products are unified, but he should This means that Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Google Chat, Google Messages, Google Duo, and Google Voice will all live under one roof.

Here is a brief summary of long story Google communication apps: Google Duo was launched in 2016 as a standalone video chat app with a “companion” messaging app called “Google Allo”. Google had just failed in its attempt to buy whatsapp two years earlier (Facebook had acquired it for $22 billion instead), so it turned on its copiers for Google Allo, which was a veritable WhatsApp clone. It used SMS phone number identification instead of a Google account, and it was limited to one device at a time, following the very non googley way WhatsApp is working.

Launching two communication apps at the same time seemed odd, but the idea was that Google could offer Duo as a companion to WhatsApp as well as Allo. Normally, a business would include video chat functionality in its new messaging app, like Hangouts or Facebook Messenger or (possibly) WhatsApp. Presumably, however, Google knew it couldn’t compete with the WhatsApp juggernaut in chat, so a standalone video app was created, with a Whatsapp clone to go along with it. WhatsApp users can stay on WhatsApp to chat, but they can add this Duo app to their arsenal.

WhatsApp didn’t have video chat features at the time, and Duo was rushed to market (it launched before Allo) to beat WhatsApps impending video rollout. Both Allo and Duo first launched in India, WhatsApp’s strongest market, and Duo was built from the ground up to deliver video chat over the slowest internet connections. The strategy worked, and while Allo died after two and a half years, Duo was able to live on. To my knowledge, Google has never shared active user stats, but Duo has become failure Android app in 2016, so it has more than 5 billion downloads on play store like all other default Android apps.

While Duo was all about Google’s WhatsApp envy, Google Meet is a manifestation of Google’s Zoom envy. Technically, Meet was launched in 2017 as a professional video conferencing product from the G Suite team, but it was shelved for years. When the pandemic hit in 2020 and Zoom usage skyrocketed, Google Meet was drafted as Google’s answer.

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