How To Get The Most Out Of Google Duo During The Quarantine

May 14, 2020

google duoThe COVID-19 quarantine continues marching forward. Millions of people across the globe are still confined to their homes, which means they’re also working from home. And working from home means making use of tools dedicated to remote collaboration—from team discussion tools like Slack to cloud-based document systems such as Nextclud and video conferencing platforms such as Zoom.

But with Zoom, you may have experienced a number of issues, such as periods of high traffic causing pixelating and bottlenecks or the dreaded Zoombombing. You could be on a conference call with your BairesDev offshore software testing team, when all of a sudden someone enters the discussion that doesn’t belong, only to wreak havoc at the meeting.

If that possibility holds no appeal to you or your team, or you’re looking for a solution for smaller group meetings, you might have sought out an alternative. One such alternative is Google Duo.

Although Google Duo was originally developed for a one-on-one video discussion, it very quickly added the ability to do small group video conferencing. With that in mind, Google Duo could be an outstanding alternative to the de facto standard video conferencing solutions.

But how do you get the most out of this platform for your business video calls? Let’s take a look at some ways that anyone can use to help improve their experience.

Avoid battery drain

The first piece of advice I always offer is to opt for the Duo Web-based version, over the mobile app. There is really only one reason for this, but it’s an important one. The Google Duo app drains your smartphone battery faster than most every app you have installed. A thirty-minute conversation can easily draw 10-20% of your battery.

Fortunately, Google does have a web-based version of Duo. However, don’t simply switch to Duo web on your smartphone. Instead, use your desktop. Yes, it means you must also have a webcam, but the battery life on a mobile device is a precious resource, so you don’t want to place added strain on that source of power.

If you don’t happen to have access to a webcam, the alternative is to always connect your smartphone to a charger when using Duo. The best solution I’ve found is with a wireless charging stand (such as the Pixel charging stand). The angle of the stand makes it very easy to place the phone on the charger and go on with your video conference. Although the angle might not be the most flattering, you can always step back a bit, so those on the other end aren’t looking directly up to your nose.

Either way, you want to make sure Duo doesn’t prematurely drain that battery.

Create groups

If you want more than one person on a video conference in Google Duo, you do so by creating groups. Although Google is planning on rolling out Groups to the web version of the tool, that feature has yet to hit. Because of this, the only way to create groups (and hold a video conference with said groups) is by way of the mobile app. To create a group, open the app on your mobile device, and tap Create group. Select all of the contacts you want in the group, and then tap Done. Once you’ve created the group, you can go back into it and give it a name or add new members.

Open the group from the Duo group listing and tap Start to initiate the group video conference call.

The one caveat to using groups on your mobile device is that the more people you have in the group the harder their images will be to see on that small screen (and the faster it will drain your battery). This is why it’s important that Google rolls out groups to the web interface soon.

Get the best image

To make sure those you are video chatting with see the best image of you, you’ll want to change two settings in the app. Open the app and tap the menu button in the top right corner of the window. From the drop-down, tap Settings. In the resulting window, tap Call settings and then make sure Low Light mode is enabled and Data Saving mode is disabled (Figure 1).

google duo call settings

Figure 1

Improving the video quality of Google Duo on Android.

Multitask while chatting

If you’re using Android 8 or newer, you are able to use Picture In Picture with Google Duo. While holding a Duo video conference, press the Home button on your device, which will send the video to its own floating window in the bottom corner of the screen.

You can then open and use other apps on your device, so if you’re chatting with one of your offshore software development companies, you can check your email, spreadsheets, or other documents without losing sight of them.

Conclusion

With these quick and easy tips, you can start getting the most out of Google Duo. Although Duo won’t replace tools like Zoom as your go-to for team video collaboration, it’s an outstanding alternative to have at the ready, should Zoom not be available or your free Zoom account limits you to 40-minute conference calls.