While instant messaging and chat is probably still the most popular way to communicate with a group of people, some find it more efficient and practical to actually say what they want face to face. Group video calls are definitely better when facial expressions and body language are just as important as the words being said or when you need to actually show things rather than fumble around with words to describe them. To that end, group calling is now being made available to Google Duo users but with one very important catch.
When Apple announced its FaceTime group calling function, it almost sounded absurd that it could support more than two dozen people In comparison, Google Duo’s limits can sound pretty, well, limiting. You can only do group video calls with up to 8 people on the line. Perfect for families, not so much for a whole crowd.
That said, Duo doesn’t discriminate between platforms so this feature is available on Android as well as iOS. Perhaps just as important, Duo encrypts all conversations that go through it, be it video messages or even this new group calling feature.
Video calls may sometimes be more practical but they are always more expensive than text, at least as far as data consumption is concerned. In markets like India and Brazil where mobile data is at a premium, Duo will offer a Data Saving mode. Google hasn’t yet disclosed what drawbacks that mode may have but it promises it will roll it out to more countries soon.
Finally, when a video call isn’t possible at all, you can still send a video message. But if you’re sending one anyway, why not spruce it up with some text, emojis, or even scribbles. This feature is now available on Android but iOS users hopefully won’t have to wait long to get it.