Like all video chat apps, Google Duo is undergoing massive changes to compete during social distancing. Last month, the service boosted its group chat limit to twelve people. Now, Google is expanding Duo group chats to the web, adding link invites to its platform, and implementing a new Family Mode for its mobile application.
Google Duo’s web-based application is still in its early stages. It’s compatible with the Duo mobile app, but it only works with two-person chats. According to Google, the Duo web app will gain group chat support in the coming weeks, with early access for Chrome users.
Along with expanded web support, Google is adding link invites to the Duo platform. Link invites, which you can copy-paste into text messages or group chats, spare you from picking people out of your contacts list before a call. It also gives you the option to quickly invite friends to a group chat during calls. For reference, Google Meet (another Google video chat app) already supports link invites and is currently free for all users.
And then there’s the new Family Mode. Like Apple’s FaceTime application, Google Duo’s Family Mode allows you to draw on-screen and apply fancy effects and AR masks to your video feed. It’s only available for one-on-one calls but should help families have engaging experiences while social distancing. Your “mute” and “end call” buttons disappear when Family Mode is enabled, which should save you from accidentally hanging up on Grandma.
Video effects and AR masks will also work on regular one-on-one Duo calls, starting with a terrifying Mother’s Day AR mask. But that’s the best Mother’s Day gift, right? Transmutation into a flower?