Google is upgrading Duo instead of shutting it down: What is going on?

Rumors surfaced back in 2020 that Google was planning on sunsetting Google Duo

in favor of Google Meet, but that plan appears to have been abandoned in 2021. Instead, the company brought a few Google Meet features onto the video chatting application. Now though, it looks like Google is delivering on its early plans, and it’s merging the two successful platforms, but why?

Google developed a plethora of messaging apps in the past, most of which were sunsetted and shut down after a few months and years. In a rare, but not surprising move, Google announced that it’ll merge Google Duo and Google Meet into a single app, making it easier to collaborate and video chat with family, friends, and colleagues.

The new move aims to bring Google Meet features into Google Duo to make scheduling video meetings easier and easily accessible. The Google Duo branding will be gone, and it’ll be replaced with Google Meet to bring the two platforms under a single roof, likely to make managing and developing more effortless for the engineers. Google also ensures in its blog post that existing video calling features from Duo are here to stay, “including the ability to make video calls to friends and family by phone number or email address, use fun filters and effects, send messages, and ask Google Assistant to call using existing devices.” All of the conversation history, contacts and messages will remain available and accessible in the app, and there will be no steps required from users to do anything.

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Additionally, Google announced that Duo will receive the following features once the merge is complete:

  • Customize virtual backgrounds in calls and meetings
  • Schedule meetings so everyone can join at a time that’s convenient for them
  • Use in-meeting chat for deeper engagement
  • Live share content to enable interaction with all participants on the call
  • Get real-time closed captions to better support accessibility and boost participation
  • Increase size of video calls from a current limit of 32 to 100 participants
  • Integrate with other tools, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Assistant, Messages and more

Why isn’t Google shutting down Duo?

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Before we talk about the details, let’s take a look at Google Duo and Google Meet’s history. Duo was announced at Google I/O 2016 alongside Google Allo. The former was later shut down in 2019

while Duo enjoyed a lot of success. One of the main reasons Duo succeeded lies in its ease of use and simplicity. The video calling application was quickly integrated into many other services and applications, and it’s still the best FaceTime competitor on Android.

On the other hand, Google Meet started as Hangouts Meet

a videoconferencing application built and integrated into Hangouts (a now dead messaging app). The two apps were later split in half, and Google spin-off Google Meet as a business feature, an alternative to Zoom to help people around the world communicate during the height of the pandemic.

The primary reason Google doesn’t want to do away with Duo altogether is in its power to reach people. Google Duo is installed on more than five billion devices, since it’s part of Google’s services and licensing agreement. It’s used by millions of people, and pulling the plug on one of the most successful Google applications would just be a silly and financially dull move. Google Meet’s power is that it’s part of Google Workspace, which is used by businesses of all sizes.

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At Google I/O 2022, the company also announced several new devices – including the Pixel Buds Pro, Pixel 6A, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. It also teased the Pixel Tablet

showing that it takes hardware and services more seriously. Google is developing a Pixel ecosystem that more closely competes against Samsung and Apple. The new move will help Google become an even bigger player in the field of messaging and video calling, leveraging the power of Android. The software giant will also be able to sell its devices to enterprise users, and offer Google Workspace as the primary service, taking on other competing business suites.

Merging Google Duo with Google Meet will ensure that the company keeps dominating the video calling market, and it might just help it take on other platforms. Looking at the big picture, the future seems bright, but let’s not forget that Google could announce a new messaging and video platform at any time soon and shut it down a few months later to experiment with new features.

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