Drop everything and download: Google Duo

Search giant decides Skype just isn’t simple enough

When was the last time you had a good old natter with your mates?

Not a WhatsApp chat, a Snapchat selfie or an iMessage: we’re talking a proper, hearty chinwag.

If your answer is “I can’t remember”, then Google Duo is the app for you.

What does it do?

Quite simply, it lets you see your pals and chat to them. Forget the filters and group chats: Duo does one-to-one video calling with pared-back brilliance.

Channelling the on-tap convenience of Hangouts, Duo is about as straightforward as a video chat app can be.

Simply stick in your phone number, select your mates from your contact list and you’ll be face-to-face chatting before you can say “FaceTime”.

It’s cross-platform, so you can happily call your iPhone friends from an Android smartphone, whilst calls are end-to-end encrypted, too, meaning there’s no need to worry about surprise birthday plans being intercepted.

Better still, Duo is built for speed. Call quality automatically changes depending on network speed, and the app will switch seamlessly between Wi-Fi and mobile data to keep you connected.

Any downsides?

Only its purity. If you're looking for a Skype replacement, this isn't it: there's no conference calling, no added features and you can't use it on any device but your phone. Simplicity is its lifeblood.

Both parties will also need the app installed before they can start their tittle-tattle, which slightly undermines the notion of spontaneous face-sharing. Still, it is free, and there's no need to make an account - so that's one less password to remember.

You’ll also need to be ready as soon as you hit the call button: a nifty feature called Knock Knock shows a pre-call preview to your video partner before they answer, which is brilliant for in-the-moment magic, but not so great for not-quite-ready callers. It does, though, make for a lot of fun, knowing your face is filling your friend's screen even before they pick up.

Where can I get it?

Duo is rolling out today and is free on both Android and iOS – so there’s really no reason not to start sharing some proper conversation with your mates.

It'll be available worldwide, too, once the release is complete, so you'll be able to do the Duo with your pals in Oz, no sweat.

Unless, of course, you prefer those filters.

Download Google Duo for iOS

Download Google Duo for Android