Phones

Now anyone can use Google Duo for audio calling

If you have a bad hair day, you won't be forced to show your face on a call.

James Martin/CNET
google-duo-audio-call.png

Toggle the top switch to start audio chatting.

Gordon Gottsegen/CNET

Google's simple video calling app Duo just got a little more advanced. Google announced that it will bring audio-only calling to Duo users worldwide, after first introducing the feature in Brazil in March.

Duo is Google's take on Apple's FaceTime, with some important differences. First, while FaceTime can only be used between people with Apple products, Duo works on both iOS and Android devices. Second, FaceTime on the iPhone is built into the dialer, but Duo is a standalone app that isn't yet connected to the Android OS. Duo must clearly make up some ground.

Up until now, Duo was a one-trick pony that let you launch a video chat only. Now, being able to chat without video means you won't be forced to use up extra data or battery making a video call -- and neither will you if you're having a bad hair day and would rather be heard and not seen.

To use the new audio feature, open the Google Duo app and toggle the top switch from video to audio. We tried it, and it works.

Duo uses either Wi-Fi or cellular data to make calls, which makes it a good option for calling someone when you have internet, but no cell service. Although the audio-only option gives Duo a greater overlap with Google Hangouts, another messaging app that also includes audio/video calls over the internet, Duo is still a more focused, mobile-first option.

The addition of audio-only calls makes us wonder if Google will continue building out Duo, and which features might come next.

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