Google today announced that it is making video calling easier for certain Android devices by integrating it into the Phone, Contacts, and Android Messages app. And later this year, it will also allow one to upgrade their voice call to video with just a tap.
Google is rolling out updates to its Phone, Contacts, and Messages app to integrate Duo video calling option in them. This will allow one to start a video call directly from within the apps. Google notes that if a carrier supports ViLTE (Video over LTE), all video calls will be routed through it. If not, then the video call will occur over Google Duo but it requires the other party to have the app installed and activated on their device as well.
Sadly, this integration will only be available on the original and second generation Pixels, Android One, and Nexus devices. Google says it is working with carriers and partners to bring such close integration to more Android devices over time.
Google Duo has already been praised for its excellent video quality even on patchy and slow networks so this move should benefit Android users in developing markets. With this move, it is clear that Google wants to transform Duo into a FaceTime competitor, something which the company should have done at least a few years ago. Like always though, the fragmentation that exists in the Android ecosystem means that not all users will be able to benefit instantly from this tight integration.