Google releases major update to its Duo video calling service

Some time ago I said that I very successfully replaced FaceTime with Google's video calling service – Duo. I liked literally everything about it – from cross-platform and the ability to use it on different devices, regardless of brand and operating system, to built-in algorithms that allow, firstly, to keep the speaker's face strictly in the center of the frame, and, secondly, provide high quality pictures. However, Google decided that this was not enough to conquer the market and released a major update to Duo.

Google releases major update to its Duo video calling service

Google Duo received a landmark update that will make it better

The inability to hold real meetings due to the coronavirus pandemic has made video conferencing tools especially popular, including Duo. But since Google's proprietary service until recently had strict restrictions on the number of participants who can simultaneously participate in a conversation, it was not very popular for conducting massive online negotiations. Therefore, Google decided to increase the possible number of participants in the conversation from 8 to 12.

How to take a screenshot in Duo

Google releases major update to its Duo video calling service

Duo video calls can now be used as video conferencing

Previously, Duo users did not have a built-in function for taking screenshots. So they just had to take screenshots and then manually cut the image. It was not very convenient, since not only the service interface was captured, but also all the accompanying elements of the operating system, control buttons, and much more. But since many, as it turned out, conduct work video conferences through Duo and from time to time need the ability to take a picture, Google added a special button to the application interface to capture what is happening on the screen.

Personally, I never had any complaints about the image quality in Duo, but Google felt that there was no limit to perfection. Therefore, to improve the 'quality and stability of the video call', it was decided to switch to the AV1 codec. The same codec is used in YouTube and Netflix, due to which it is possible to provide 30% better performance when transferring pictures at low signal levels compared to baseline. In direct comparison, the difference will be noticeable to the naked eye.

How to improve quality in Duo

Google releases major update to its Duo video calling service

On the left – as it will become, on the right – as it was

The sound in Duo will also undergo certain changes. According to Google developers, support for new algorithms will appear in the mobile application of the service, which will, firstly, prevent the sound from interrupting when the connection is unstable, and, secondly, if this turns out to be impossible, simply fill in the blanks automatically. Most likely, the artificial intelligence that will form the basis of these algorithms will simply analyze what users say and, in the event of a sound skip, will insert what, in their opinion, should have sounded.

Despite the fact that all the innovations were presented by Google at once, their distribution will be carried out gradually. According to the confirmed information, the first users will begin to receive updates this week, but they will get to most of them within two to three weeks. Google plans in this way to ensure the stability of innovations before deploying them to the general public. First of all, the increase in the number of users in the video conference and the button to create a screenshot will be presented, and then the new video codec and algorithms for sound replacement.

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