As video calls among families and friends become the new normal in social distancing times, Google has announced fresh features on its video calling app Google Duo, including group calls on the web soon. In the coming weeks, you'll be able to make group calls with Duo on the web, starting as a preview on Chrome, alongside a new layout that lets you see more people at the same time.
"To make getting together easier, you'll also be able to invite anyone with a Google account to join a group call with just a link," Google said on Friday.
Another new Family Mode feature will let users doodle on video calls for everyone to see and surprise them with fun effects and masks. The Duo users do not have to worry about accidental mutes or hang-ups because Google has hidden those buttons as people play together.
"This new family mode is available when signed into Duo with your Google account," the company said on Friday.
In addition to bringing masks and effects to the Family Mode, Google said it is also bringing them to any one-on-one video calls on Android and iOS — starting this week.
"We're also rolling out more effects and masks that help you express yourself, from wearing heart glasses to transforming into a flower," said Google.
Last month, the search engine giant rolled out a new video codec technology to improve video call quality and reliability, even on very low-bandwidth connections. The company also allowed users to click a photo during a video calling.
Google has increased its participant limit on video calls to 12 users and will further increase the limit. Google is also adding a feature that will now automatically save video and voice messages that previously expired after 24 hours. Every week, over 10 million new people are signing up for Duo, and in many countries, call minutes have increased by more than ten-fold, according to the company.