Google’s video chat app Duo will allow group calls on the web in the “coming weeks”, the company said in a blog post on May 8. The feature be available as a preview on Chrome to begin with, and will have a new layout that will let users see more people simultaneously. Users with a Google account will be able to join group calls using just a link, similar to the company’s premium Meet service. At the moment it isn’t clear if there’ll be a limit to the number of participants on group calls on Duo on the web; we have reached out to Google for details. Google Duo currently allows only one-on-one calls on the web, and group calls can only be placed on Android and iOS, with a maximum of 12 participants.
With this, all three of Google’s video chat offerings — Meet, Hangouts and Duo — will support group video calls on the web. Amid COVID-19 lockdowns around the world, Meet saw an unprecedented 30x increase in usage since January. It has 100 million daily users, and 3 million new additions everyday. Google also made Meet free for all users around the world.
Google Duo will also allow participants to draw doodles on the screen during video calls, and has added support for augmented reality (AR) based effects and filters. To avoid accidental mutes or hang-ups, Duo will hide those buttons while users are doodling on screen. Google is calling this the “family mode”, and the feature is available when signed into Duo with a Google account. We could use the feature on both Duo’s Android and iOS apps.