Google is not giving up on its push to become the go-to platform regardless of whatever you are looking for, especially when it comes to communications.
With Hangouts, users already have a concrete app that can handle all kinds of communications, be it text messaging or voice and video calling. However, the app has found favor in the enterprise world where it is seen as more of a productivity tool than a simple messaging and calling tool like some of its current users would like it to be.
Google thought this over and in May, the search engine giant announced a mobile-based video calling app known as Google Duo. The app does nothing else but makes video calls to other users with the app installed. It is lightweight, coming in at less than 8MB, but it promises one of the best video calling experiences, if not the best. But will it win the battle that is already heating up with the likes of Skype, Facebook Messenger and FaceTime already leading the way? Let’s take a closer look at these four major video calling apps and how they compare against each other.
We start with the new elephant in town – Google Duo. With about four days since its official release, Google Duo has climbed to position two in the list of free apps in the Google Play Store. In case you didn’t know, this is one above the popular Pokémon Go, which has now moved to third on the same list.
This app is very basic, which is ideally what Google intended with it, but be sure that it will get the job done. Once downloaded, setting up is a no-brainer. The app is tied to your phone number, so registration should also be easy, with the activation code sent to the provided number. When done, simply pick a contact and make the call. The app also allows you to invite other people in your contact book to come and try the app.
As at the time of this writing, there is no audio calling support nor group calls on Google Duo – only one-to-one video calls. But you will enjoy the Knock Knock feature that lets you see the surrounding of the caller even before you answer the call in question. However, this feature is currently limited to Android devices only. Furthermore, switching between Wi-Fi and cellular data will not affect your call quality. Google also says that Duo will be able to offer top-notch video calling services even when connected through the slowest networks available, among them EDGE and 2G.
Still, Google says that voice calling support will soon be added to Duo.
Microsoft’s Skype is known as the king of video calling. The app has been here for over a decade now, offering users with quality voice and video calling services. It gets even better with Skype as users can also enjoy messaging services as well as call those who are not on the platform, but with the help of Skype credit. Unlike Google Duo that is tied to your phone number, Skype will ask for an email address instead, but there is still room to associate your number with the Skype account.
The good side of Skype is that it is available on almost everything, be it a phone, tablet, PC, TV and so on. It is also available on all platforms, be it Windows, Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Mac, Linux and so on. In addition to this, you also get group video calling and even call translation, but the latter only works with desktop apps. If anything, Skype has an almost equal match in Google Hangouts, which works in a similar manner. Surprisingly, Skype was ahead of FaceTime when it comes to supporting video calls, even on the iPhone.
FaceTime is well-known to Apple users. This is actually the default video calling app on the platform, but it only works when the connection is either 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi. The app also comes with support for voice calling services, just in case the person you are calling has a device without a front-facing camera or maybe you simply don’t want to be seen. In most cases, the quality of audio calls on FaceTime is usually better than using traditional phone calls.
As noted earlier, FaceTime is only limited to Apple devices, meaning you need the other person to have a similar device in order for the app to work. This is where Google Duo wins the battle with FaceTime.
In just about two years, Facebook Messenger has evolved from an app that was forced onto smartphone users and now it tops the list of the most downloaded free apps in the Google Play Store. All these can be attributed to the fact that the app offers a wide variety of services, with video calling among the latest to be added.
It gets even better as Messenger further supports group calling services, be it on the mobile app or via the web-based version. As you all may know, the Facebook-owned app also offers messaging services and other business-based services that take advantage of Messenger Bots.
Given the growing number of apps today, it is not possible to have all of them installed on your phone. It is possible to use about two or even one of these apps for everything you need, but it just depends on what exactly you need. While the quality of calls on any of Google Duo, Skype, Facebook Messenger and FaceTime will heavily depend on the type of connectivity you have, the level of security offered on each app varies.
Skype and FaceTime offer end-to-end encryption services to their calls. Just recently, Facebook Messenger started receiving the same encryption feature, but this only works with secret conversations in messaging. As for the video calls, the encryption has yet to come in. On the contrary, the newly-released Google Duo supports end-to-end encryption of video calls.
So, which app will it be? Let us know your choice (s) in the comments.