A look at the Google’s new video calling app “Google Duo” in comparison with “Apple Facetime”

google duo vs facetime on android phones

Thanks to better cameras in mobile devices, video chat software on laptops and desktops went mobile with Apple’s extremely popular FaceTime app for iPhones in 2011. It took Google more than five years, but the tech giant finally countered with Google Duo in August 2016. Which is better?

Here’s a look at the features of both “Google Duo” & “Apple Facetime” and how they stack up.

Apple’s FaceTime

FaceTime works on any iOS device. When it first came out in 2011, it blew any other competing apps away when it came to getting reliable video chats on phones with great images. FaceTime works through any Wi-Fi connection or a data plan purchased by the user. The first time you launch FaceTime on your iOS device, it automatically registers your phone number. Just sign in to register your user information.

Make a video call to another registered user through the person’s phone number or email address. You can switch to a video call during an ordinary phone call, and put a phone call on hold while you switch to video chat. The interface is very straightforward and easy to use. FaceTime employs a caller ID feature so you know who is calling.

Video quality depends on how stable your connection is between the two phones. A strong Wi-Fi or wireless signal means high-quality video without any lags. A weak signal in either area produces the opposite effect–expect to see some pixelated faces if you find a less-than-ideal signal for video chatting. In basic terms, Google Duo is much like FaceTime, but the tech giant added a few features that might tip the scales in Google’s favor.

Google’s Duo

Google Duo is just as easy to use as FaceTime. There are a few extras that Google Duo has the improves on FaceTime’s concept (also left behind some features). One of the improvements is that Apple users can download Duo onto non-Android devices. This helps when people try to video chat between one device to another. While Apple’s FaceTime is only available on iOS devices, Google Duo works on both platform.

One workaround to the lack of FaceTime on Android devices is for people to simply download another app (FaceTime android app alternatives), such as Skype or Facebook Messenger, that doesn’t depend on the two mega-titans battling for smartphone supremacy. In this respect, Duo simply has a programming advantage over Apple. If everyone you want to talk to owns iPhones, then you should probably stick with FaceTime.

Set up is extremely easy for Duo. The app scans your SIM card and then buzzes you with a text message confirming the register. The app then taps into your list of contacts you already have saved on the phone. There’s no need to create an account, use an email or import a contact list. In this way, Duo is easier than Skype or Facebook Messenger.

One nifty addition to Duo includes the caller ID function with cool feature. Instead of merely seeing someone’s account on a caller ID, the “Knock Knock” feature lets you see a video image of the person calling on the other end before the call starts. If you see the scowling face of Aunt Martha rather than her normal, chipper self, you might consider ignoring the call. Anyone can disable the Knock Knock function if you don’t want to use it whatsoever. When you disable Knock Knock, you do so for everyone who tries to contact you. Like FaceTime, you can also block individual people from calling you.

During a Duo call, you see three small icons at the bottom below the main video image. These icons end the call, switch cameras or mute the audio. There aren’t any emails to worry about, and it’s strictly done with phone calls. Each call is encrypted, so you don’t have to worry about anyone hacking a wireless connection to butt in on your private conversation. FaceTime also has encryption.

Google bills Duo as different from its Hangouts video software in that it’s exclusive to smartphones. You get a one-on-one video chat with another person. In that respect, the programming of Hangouts won’t bog down your phone.

Compare Duo with FaceTime in this handy table for features.

Google Duo FaceTime
Easy to Use yes yes
Encryption yes yes
Caller ID yes yes
Knock-Knock yes no
Switch to phone call no yes
Simple Controls yes yes
Compatibility iOS, android iOS, mac
Audio only calls no yes
Contacts Phone number only phone number/email Addres

Final Verdict

The one major difference between Duo and FaceTime is compatibility. Duo works on Apple products, but FaceTime doesn’t work on Android products. Aside from that, both services are easy to use, have simple controls and utilize the same basic methods to communicate through video. Which of these apps you want to use really comes down to a personal preference. If you don’t like either of them, there are other big players in the video chat market who would love your business.