Google targets Apple with new video calling app

Jack Clark

Google unveiled a new video calling application named Duo that will compete with Apple Inc.’s FaceTime.

Duo will work on both Android and Apple Inc.’s iOS mobile operating system and is designed to adjust to slower, low-bandwidth networks, said Erik Kay, a product manager for Google, during a presentation at the company’s IO developer conference Wednesday. It is encrypted and switches automatically between Wi-Fi and cellular networks, he added.

"We obsessed over every last detail of video transmission," Kay said. "Duo works wherever you are, whether it’s New York or New Delhi, Buenos Aires or Butte, at the home or on the road."

It has a feature named Knock Knock that shows a live video of the caller upfront, letting the receiver see who is calling and what they’re doing. That’s part of Google’s goal to draw people into more conversations over its services, said Kay.

Duo works with Allo, a new mobile messaging app, that includes an artificially intelligent digital assistant and Google’s search engine. The two new offerings may help Google compete with Apple’s FaceTime video calling service and Facebook Inc.’s messaging services WhatsApp and Messenger.

Google, the main division of Alphabet Inc., has lagged behind rivals in messaging and broader communications apps in recent years.