Google Duo and Meet will merge in the near future.

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Google Duo, the company's consumer video chat service, will shortly merge with Google Meet, the company's corporate video chat service.

The Duo app will soon receive all of Meet's functionality, including scheduled calls, and will be renamed Google Meet once the transfer is complete. The current Meet app will just open the new Duo/Meet app at that moment. It's a little convoluted, but migrating millions of users to the new platform was always going to be a major undertaking.

Given that Google has already retired Allo, Duo's chat-focused sibling, none of this comes as a huge surprise. Both were released in 2016 to some consternation, given Google already had a number of text and video chat alternatives. The majority of these have now been consolidated under the Chat and Meet brands by Google.

Source: Google

Google's GM and VP, Javier Soltero, informed me that this move has been in the works for a long time. In the year 2020, the corporation merged the Duo and Meet teams in order to merge the two products into one. "We believe it is incredibly important and strategically critical for Google to be able to serve the entire video market, from consumer to organisational and commercial use, with a common service platform and a product whose user experience is guided by the same sense of simplicity and intuitiveness," he said.

Dave Citron, the director of product management for both companies, also remarked that as the epidemic spread, both Duo and Meet's usage spiked, indicating a new type of product-market fit. As a result, the teams began looking for ways to iterate faster. "The great thing about bringing the teams together is that we've brought some of the best of both products to each other, strengthened the foundation, and... it's now fairly straightforward to take that final step and actually bring them fully together because of the work we've done over the last few years," Citron said.

Source: Google

Google has gradually added Duo capabilities to Meet over the previous few years, and the Duo app will soon have access to all of Meet's features, including planned meetings. This will happen over the next several weeks, however Soltero and Citron warned that Google will adopt a cautious approach, monitoring its metrics for any concerns and slowing down the process if required to remedy faults.

It's no secret that Duo and Allo were designed to be consumer-focused versions of Google Chat and Meet, which are more business-focused. But that's certainly not what customers wanted — notably in the case of Allo — and, if anything, the epidemic has accelerated the blurring of the lines between business and personal life, something no one could have predicted. When Microsoft created a personal version of Teams, Google's colleagues saw the writing on the wall.

Citron emphasised that the main goal is to ensure that no users are left behind. Users of Duo should be able to continue using the app as usual, even if the name changes. They won't be forced to schedule meetings if they don't want to (but both Citron and Soltero noted that more consumers than ever are now also scheduling personal meetings). Similarly, Meet users will be able to use the app for their planned meetings, but they will also be able to make ad hoc conversations with their contacts without having to go through the process of scheduling a call. Those of you who are now utilizing Duo on a Nest Hub Max or comparable smart speaker (or even a TV) will be able to do so in the future as well.

It's almost remarkable that it took Google this long, given that both Duo and Meet employ the same open WebRTC technology at their heart. If anything, the introduction of Duo alongside Meet caused some confusion among users, especially when Google made Meet available to everyone during the epidemic. It's not simple to explain why consumers should pick between two alternative solutions for similar use scenarios, and Soltero admits as much.

"Part of this is also inspired by something we've always known to be true: no matter how many tools you have — and communication tools in particular — if you're not good at letting people to make the appropriate choices for the right situation, you're not really making the world a better place, right?" "People just aren't necessarily better at realizing instinctively what instrument to use for what condition in this day and age — and definitely not throughout the course of the epidemic," he added. He said that Google might solve this problem by offering consumers the option of determining how accessible someone is at any given moment and searching for them via phone numbers or email addresses, for example.

Some of this may appear to be Google looking for justifications after the fact, but most importantly, this chapter of Google's video chat confusion is finally coming to an end, and a combined Meet/Duo app makes sense to me, and it may encourage me to use the platform more frequently for ad hoc meetings. Now it's time for Google Hangouts...

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