- Google announced a new video chat app called Duo on Tuesday.
- The company is hoping to rival Apple’s FaceTime and other popular video apps. Duo will be available for both Android and iOS.
- Duo is part of a broader strategy to simplify Google's expansive and confusing array of communications offerings.
Google currently has two email services, three text offerings and now two video chat services.
CEO Sundar Pichai asked Google veteran Nick Fox to fix the company's communication options 18 months ago. The company sees communication apps as an important area of focus, predicting that it will soon evolve into "one of the next big technology platforms supporting digital commerce, advertising and new services powered by artificial-intelligence," according to Bloomberg.
Unlike Google Hangouts, Duo uses phone numbers rather than requiring users to have a Google account or Gmail address. Critics said the fact that Hangouts didn’t use phone numbers limited its acceptance. According to data from SimilarWeb, Hangout currently lags Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat in terms of usage.
With Duo now on the scene, Fox said Google will pivot Hangouts to become more of a workplace service, enabling office video conferencing. It will also be incorporated into Google’s enterprise-related software, like Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.