Google Duo Group Video Calls Roll Out, Plus Doodles, Emoji In Video Voicemails


A while back, Google started rolling out group video calls on Duo in some countries, but now it's confident the feature is ready for a global release.

As such, all Google Duo users around the world can now make calls with up to seven of their friends at a time. That's of course a far cry from Apple's 32-person conferencing via FaceTime, or Skype's whopping 50, but at least the option is there.

It's not clear if Google plans to increase the participant limit at a later point. Eight people in one call seems like it would be a chaotic mess, but such conferences aren't unheard of. Still, it could be nice for checking up on relatives, especially for those who have a big family.

Group Calling

"Group calling is now available globally on both iOS and Android, and like all Duo calls and video messages, group calls are also encrypted end-to-end so your conversations stay private," Google announced in a blog post.

Data Saving Mode

In addition to group calling, Google is also rolling out a Data Saving mode for select regions where networks aren't always consistent, including Indonesia, India, and Brazil. With this feature, users can limit data usage on both mobile networks and Wi-Fi on Android. Toggling on this mode will affect both the user and the person they're trying to reach, allowing both of them to save data usage in video calls. Google says it will be rolling out this mode to more markets in the coming months.

Make More Creative Video Voicemails

When a person isn't available, Google Duo users can leave video voicemails, which are pretty self-explanatory. The feature lets anyone record a quick video message when the other party can't pick up or the caller just wants to send something quickly. Google is updating this feature to let users also add text, emojis, and even doodles to personalize their message even more. Personalized video voicemails are now available on Android and coming soon to iOS.

Google Duo is a free download on Android and iOS. It's Google's answer to Skype and FaceTime, although it's still lacking a number of features compared to its long-standing rivals. Video calls and more personalized video voicemails do make the app a lot more useful, and the new Data Saving mode will definitely increase Duo's appeal in markets where data is a precious commodity.

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