Google Duo feature push continues with family mode, 32-way calls and more

Google Duo
(Image credit: Google)

Google isn't slowing down in trying to pinch some of the market share Zoom has amassed in the video chat market – having added one-click calls to Gmail for its business-focused Google Meet video app, it's now pushing out more features for its other video tool, Google Duo, as well.

As announced in a blog post from Google, Duo is getting a family mode that essentially adds a lot of masks and filters for messing about with the kids (or grandchildren). The mute and hang up buttons get hidden in this mode, presumably to stop youngsters accidentally hitting them.

The same video filters and effects are also rolling out to one-to-one Duo calls on Android and iOS, Google says, just in case you want to turn your face into a giant flower vase or something similar.

Google Duo on the web is also getting some improvements: browser-based group video calls will be supported in the "coming weeks" apparently, and you'll be able to join them via an invite link from your Google account. Sounds a lot like... Zoom.

Upgrades aplenty

The maximum number of people you can have on a Duo video call was recently bumped up to 12 participants, but as Google has confirmed to Android Police (and has also mentioned in promotional emails), that will soon be rising to 32.

It's been interesting to see tech firms scrambling to get their video calling software upgraded as quickly as possible, as more and more of us are stuck at home due to the ongoing effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

HTC has launched a VR video chat application, while Skype and Facebook have both been rolling out features to make their video calling tools match the features and the interface of Zoom – the app that has so far seen the biggest growth in use.

Even FaceTime is following the lead set by Zoom: in the latest iOS beta code you're able to turn off the floating face interface and use a more conventional grid instead. If you're in the market for a video calling program, the choices are better than ever.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.