Google launches Duo to talk up video chat

Google officially launched Google Duo, pitting it directly against Apple’s FaceTime, which allows video calls only between Apple devices.

Duo will also compete with Microsoft’s video-calling app Skype, Facebook’s Messenger and even its own Hangout app.

Duo comes with a unique feature called Knock Knock, which lets a person to see live video of a caller before answering. Google said video calls would work even on slower networks by “gracefully” reducing the resolution to keep the call going smoothly.

“For video calls on the go, Duo will switch between Wi-Fi and cellular data automatically without dropping your call,” Justin Uberti, principal software engineer, wrote in a blog post.

Google, owned by Alphabet, said the app would be live worldwide in the next few days.

Meanwhile, Apple plans to boost its investment in China, one of its most important but increasingly difficult markets, and build its first Asia-Pacific research and development centre in the country, chief executive Tim Cook said yesterday.

Demand for Apple’s phones has plummeted in China, and the government maintains a wary attitude towards foreign technology. This is at least the CEO’s second trip to the country in four months.

Apple’s new research and development centre will be built by the end of the year, Mr Cook told vice premier Zhang Gaoli, one of China’s most senior officials, according to the official Chinese state broadcaster.

The pledge comes after the head of China’s technology regulator in May told Mr Cook he hoped Apple could deepen its cooperation with the country in research and development and stressed information security.

Sales in greater China, once touted as Apple’s next growth engine, fell by a third in its most recent quarterly results, after having more than doubled a year earlier.


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