With the "new normal" brought by the novel coronavirus, families and friends will have to make do with video calls, text messaging and chatting online to check with their loved ones and see how they are doing while in lockdown.
Since there's a growing need for video conferencing software like Skype and Zoom, Google is stepping up and bringing their own to the table.
Google Duo Comes to Web Browsers
According to a report by TechRadar, Google Chrome will be bringing Google Duo to web browsers, an app that has been around since 2016 and can provide free video calls but was initially only available for mobile phones.
Based on the report, the web app, which is known as Duo for Web, can hold video call conferences for up to 12 people and could be an alternative to Skype and Zoom.
Anyone who wants to try this new web app can sign up for Duo for Web with their mobile phone number, and they can begin using the app once it launches.
According to Google, the full launch of the web app will be happening "in the coming weeks."
Duo users can invite anyone with a Google account by sending them a link to the group call or chat.
Casual Hangouts in Family Mode
Google Duo is best known for casual conversations as it was specifically made for that, unlike Skype and Zoom, which are perfect for both working and playing.
But it's perfect for family and friends who simply want to hang around virtually since social distancing and the quarantine rules won't allow us to meet each other and hang around like we used to pre-pandemic.
According to ZDNet, Duo will have a "family mode" that will let participants use masks and effects to liven up the video call.
Perhaps the best part of the mode is the "Doodles" option, which allows the participants to share their doodles with the person on the other end of the call.
The Family Mode is now available when you log into your Duo with a Google account, but will only be made available for one-on-one calls for now.
Simply check the menu icon on your Android or iOS phones.
In addition to the fun effects, the Family Mode also intentionally hides the mute button so that video chats and calls will not be affected by accidental presses.
In a blog post by Google, they assure their users that Duo's calls are always encrypted end-to-end to guarantee their safety and privacy, something that has been an issue before with Zoom, which made their CEO, Eric Yuan, apologize to the public.
Google Meet for Business
Besides Google Duo, Google Meet is another video conferencing software from the internet giant, which was previously only available for G-Suite but is now made free for anyone with a Google account.
Google Meet can allow as many as 100 people to join the call for up to 24 hours, which is more than the 40 minutes maximum available for free Zoom accounts.
Nevertheless, it will be dropped to an hour, but not until Sept. 30.