In recent months, Google has prioritized the development of its video communications products as demand for social distance solutions continues to increase in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the well-publicized step of making Google Meet free for all callers, today the company pushed updates for the Google Duo that will extend the app's augmented reality camera effects to one-on-one video calls for iOS and Android.
The update is rolling out to iOS and Android now. Once the app has been updated, the AR effects can be found under the overflow menu during an ongoing video call. To celebrate the occasion, Google has added a special Mother's Day effect so that sons and daughters can reach out to their moms this weekend.
Prior to the update, the Duo allowed its users to record and send video messages with a limited, rotating selection of AR effects, similar to those made popular by Snapchat and Facebook. The same effects are now being extended to video calls.
Previously, only Google Pixel devices have supported AR effects in Duo video calls through their latest Feature Drop. Dubbed Duo Effects, the animoji style, virtual full masks that reflect the user's facial expressions, appear to remain exclusive to Pixel smartphones, as these effects, including kite, fish and robot masks, are not available in the app for other Android devices, much less on iOS.
In addition, Google unveiled a new family mode, which simplifies the user interface to avoid accidental mutings and hang-ups while adding a doodle feature that allows calls to draw on the screen. Google expands AR effects in Duo to video calls for iPhone & Android in time for Mother's Day ” width=”222″ height=”222″ style=”max-width:532px;height:auto;”/>
As recorded on an iPhone X R Duo's AR effects are in the overflow menu.
"Although physical separation has been difficult for all of us, the Google Duo makes it easier to let the family know how much we miss them, show off our latest artwork and act just as stupid to few as we personally," said Humberto Castaneda , Google Duo Product Manager, in a blog post.
Last month, the Google Duo updated with improved video call quality, expanded group call capability, and the introduction of a new photo capture tool for use in video calls.
With the addition of AR support in video calls, Google plays catch-up with Snapchat and Facebook Messenger, as well as Apple's FaceTime platform, all of which have already supported AR effects in their video calls and can provide tools in group calls.
And AR has served as a revenue stream for Snapchat and Facebook with sponsored effects. Even Facebook's portal line of smart video devices, with their family-friendly AR effects, has become a popular seller during our social distances.
But Duo is not the household name of competitor's apps, with its installed base as the default video calling app pre-installed on many Android devices and its platform features, the Duo cannot be overlooked as a serious competitor in the growing mobile AR field.