In August of 2020, 9to5Google reported that Google was planning to replace Duo with Meet. This development was finally made official today – and will see the app that the vast majority of Android users have installed on their devices get renamed to Google Meet later this year.
Tower of (video) Babel
If you asked a user of free Google services in the early to mid-2010s how to call somebody over video, they’d say Hangouts. In 2016, this answer changed to Google Duo, a very focused and lightweight app that people, by all accounts, liked.
The answer to that question started to shift again two years ago as work from home (WFH) saw Google continuously upgrade Meet, which dates back to 2017, and add new features that leverage the company’s AI prowess. However, the biggest change was how closely integrated Meet became with Gmail.
Next to Search (and YouTube), Gmail is likely Google’s most important consumer-facing offering. The email app started surfacing Meet for all users in 2020, not just enterprise customers. Given its prominence, Meet became a stronger contender to the service a regular Google Account holder would think to use.
Today, the company is officially answering that question itself: Google Meet is its “one connected solution.” And this move might just work to make this unified Meet more than the sum of its parts.
What is happening: Meet won
Google is first updating the Duo app on Android and iOS with “all the Google Meet features.” This includes the ability to:
Customize virtual backgrounds in calls and meetings
Schedule meetings so everyone can join at a time that’s convenient for them
Use in-meeting chat for deeper engagement
Live share content to enable interaction with all participants on the call
Get real-time closed captions to better support accessibility and boost participation
Increase size of video calls from a current limit of 32 to 100 participants
Integrate with other tools, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Assistant, Messages, and more