An update to the Google Duo video calling app means that you can now make both audio and video calls to people who don’t have the app installed.

For someone without the app, they will see it as an incoming call with a view of your camera. They are then able to answer it and take part in the call, all without installing the app …

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The change was spotted by Android Police.

You can now call people that haven’t installed or registered with Duo in the past. It works almost exactly like a normal Duo call, including the Knock-Knock feature.

An incoming call can instantly fly over the screen with a view of the caller’s camera. Of course, this also works with audio-only calls. Recipients can answer the call by dragging up on the phone icon, mute their mic or change cameras, and hang up just like a regular Duo call. There is also a persistent notification icon that can bring the call back into view if you hit a button to navigate away while it’s still connected.

Once the call ends, the user will be offered the option of installing the app, as well as blocking that caller.

The feature is made possible by App Preview Messaging, which Google first introduced back in 2016. The company said then that it was to address the difficulty of different people using different messaging apps.

We realize that making it easy to reach the right contact isn’t just a challenge for our users — it’s also a challenge for many messaging app developers. So, we’re also opening up this feature to developers with an early access program, allowing them to extend the reach of their messaging app.

Android Police said that it was only able to use the feature with around a quarter of contacts, suggesting that there are additional criteria beyond having an Android phone, possibly meaning that the feature is limited to more recent Android versions.

Google last month started letting users make a Duo video call from a regular phone call.


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