Duo – the yin to Allo’s failed yang in Google’s messaging strategy from a few years ago – has not only amassed a wide audience of users over the past couple years; it has also managed to keep them around. Apple’s iMessage and Facetime still dominate the US landscape and Allo failed to the point of being fully shut down, but Duo has emerged as a popular and useful cross-platform video messenger even while missing a key feature: group calls.
Over the past few weeks, Google has been slowly rolling out the group call feature and as of yesterday, they have made it available across the board for Android and iOS users. With that, it becomes pretty clear that the web client (which is the best version for Chromebook users) isn’t on that list, but I’d wager it won’t be too long before that happens as well.
The entire thing works just as you’d expect and to place a group call, you simply need to select “create group,” select the contacts, and then initiate the call. A nice feature is the fact that those groups stick around after the call is done and stay up with your frequent contacts for quick, one-touch group calls in the future.
The calls are limited to 8 participants and simply divides the screen more and more as additional callers join the group. I personally prefer the Hangouts method of showing the person speaking in full screen while showing everyone else in the room in a small window at the bottom or side, but maybe that will be a feature for down the road. For now this is a great way to call up a few people at once if you want to video chat.
When the web client updates with this feature, we’ll be sure to keep you all updated.