Google just released their new one-to-one video calling app, Duo. The app is awesome; it’s simple, straight forward, and is tied to your phone number instead of a Google account. I’m sure some people would appreciate that last point. Allo, on the other hand, is a simple, straight forward, text messaging app. Allo is also tied to your phone number. The search engine giant is competing with the likes of WhatsApp here.
About an hour back, I installed Duo and called a friend on it. I was surprised at how simple the app is. You have one button, click that and you’ll be taken to your contact list. The list of people who are already on the platform appear at the top. Separated from that list is another list of people who are not yet on the service. You can, however, invite them by sending a text message. Once you are in the call, you have options to mute, and switch between the front and the rear cameras. And that’s pretty much it.
I was confused. I like the app, but was confused as to what’s the point? Hangouts does all this. Why have two more apps for the same set of features? So, like anybody else, I tweeted the same. I got a response form Dencil Smith. He pointed me to an Android Police post which explained it.
So Hangouts is going to be a corporate communication tool for organisations that use Google Apps. Also, the post mentioned that according to a Google I/O talk earlier this year, Hangouts will still be available to people using it with an ‘@gmail.com’ account. That’s good news actually, at least for me.
But here’s the thing — there’s no desktop (which probably also means web) client for Allo and Duo. We are going to have only mobile (Android and iOS) apps for as long as Google decides to not build a desktop/web client. There’s a possibility that there might be some third-party apps with Allo/Duo integration, if the API are available, I’m not sure about this, just hoping.
So, for a person who is mostly living online through his laptop, using a communication app which is mobile-only is frustrating. Hangouts has a Chrome app, which works beautifully. There’s also a Chrome extension if you prefer not to have a separate window for it. You can have Hangouts video calls within Chrome, which is brilliant and convenient. Your messages are synced on all devices, so when you are actually mobile, the mobile apps have the latest messages for you to continue the conversation. WhatsApp built a companion web app for a reason, it’s bloody convenient!
I love all Google products, I’ve been an early adopter of almost all Google products (even Buzz and Wave, remember those?). But I think I’ll be indulging with Allo and Duo just to fulfil the curiosity in me. And I’ll continue ranting about using two different, mobile-only apps for a while, enabling all the haters. 🙂