Recent reporting suggested that Google Duo would soon be gaining a handful of features to match Google Meet, but our research suggests otherwise.

Here at 9to5Google, as part of our APK Insight column, we often speculate about – and in some cases even demonstrate – features that may be coming soon to Android apps from Google and other companies. We do this by examining changes to the APK file used to install the app onto your phone.

Recently, another publication used similar techniques to look for new features in recent updates to Google Duo. According to their reporting, Google Duo would gain features like recorded meetings, breakout rooms, and companion mode, all of which are core features of Meet, Google’s business-focused competitor to Zoom. However, we believe there’s more to the story.

In February, starting with version 159, builds of Google Duo moved from being roughly 68MB to about 105MB, with no obvious outward changes as the reason for that increase in size. Our ever-curious APK Insight team took a closer look to see where this particular increase came from. Alongside the mentions of breakout rooms and recordings, we found over 1,000 other newly added texts.

More importantly, every single one of those can also be found in the latest Google Meet app. For example, here’s a bit of text related to the “Companion mode badge,” as found in Google Duo version 162:

<string name=”conf_companion_badge_education”>The Companion mode badge means people are using Companion mode. You can see them in the people list.</string>

And here is the exact same text – under the exact same “conf_companion_badge_education” name – in the Google Meet app:

<string name=”conf_companion_badge_education”>The Companion mode badge means people are using Companion mode. You can see them in the people list.</string>

Beyond that, all of the audio files for Google Meet’s sound effects, and even the Android “activities” to launch Google Meet, have been added to Google Duo. All of this helps account for the APK file being 37MB larger. In short, the entirety of the Google Meet app – itself only 48MB, according to APKMirror – has (essentially) been integrated into Duo.

We’ve actually seen something like this happen once before. Back in 2020, all of the code and strings for Google’s Meet and Chat apps began being integrated into Gmail. Ultimately, this resulted in Gmail on Android gaining the full capabilities of both Chat and Meet.

The obvious conclusion to draw would be that a similar Frankenstein joint app would be created, akin to Gmail. However, according to our recent reporting, the internal efforts to merge Meet and Duo together have fizzled out, seemingly leaving Meet as Google’s heir apparent for video calling, for both consumers and organizations alike.

Another possibility to consider is that Google is taking advantage of Duo’s massive install base – Duo has 5 billion installs according to Play Store, versus Meet’s 100 million –  to quickly bring Meet calling to more people. That said, Google has already accomplished that task by integrating Meet into Gmail.

Lastly, Google could begin using Meet’s code as the new basis for Duo. This could allow any efforts for the business side of Meet to have an immediate impact on Duo as well. In theory, it could also save Google the effort of maintaining two incredibly similar apps. If this is the case though, it would be a massive undertaking for Google to switch things over without breaking anything for those enjoying the app today.

Whatever the case may be, we do not think this is as simple a story as Duo getting a handful of new features from Meet. To boil it down that small is to miss the forest for the trees. There is no indication whatsoever that these individual features of Google Meet are being included in Duo calls in any way.

And that’s before even considering how little sense Companion Mode (a feature designed for presenters with two devices) and breakout rooms (for temporarily splitting a large meeting into smaller ones) make for Google Duo.

Instead, this is the beginning of a much larger project, the end goal of which can only be speculated. Time will tell what Google has in store for Meet and Duo, but our APK Insight team will be watching things closely in the coming weeks.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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