Google has taken to its blog to announce a few great new features coming to Duo soon, but the biggest and most important change will come by way of a new video codec that promises to deliver much higher-quality video fidelity even over crummy connections. The other features (photos in call, improvements to personal messages, and more users per call) are all in the ‘coming soon’ phase, but the improvement to call quality is supposed to arrive at some point this week.
Google has already rolled out a bit of AI to help fill in the gaps with stuttering/lagging audio in calls and, on a technical level, it’s a little mind-boggling how good that tech works. Long story short, Google’s AI can make missing audio appear as if from out of nowhere and keep continuity rolling in your call even when the data connection isn’t quite keeping pace. Check out a quick demo of how it actually impacts your audio:
A bigger fix
Audio is only part of the issue when data loss is occurring in a call, so Google is also rolling out an update to the video codec that Duo uses to stream caller video from device to device. They will be moving Duo over to the AV1 codec which is part of work the Alliance for Open Media. AV1 is the replacement for VP9 and makes for drastically higher data compression rates than the older standards in use currently with Duo. This will clearly improve the quality of video in calls for both high and low bandwidth users alike.
Google says this new codec should be rolling out to the Duo app this week and all users should have the update by the end of April. Combined with the AI-driven audio enhancements, these changes should make Duo one of the absolute best choices for cross-platform video chat. I love all the extra stuff as much as anyone, but at the end of the day, a video chat app should solidly deliver on high quality audio and video. Period. Though Duo has been pretty solid for me over the years, these new additions will only make sure that experience gets shared by more people than ever.