Google Duo adds a 'family mode' and web-based group calls

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
Google Duo family mode

Google isn’t done making Duo video calls more accommodating in the pandemic era. It’s introducing a handful of updates that make chats livelier, including a family mode. Fire it up and you can add cute AR effects or doodle while you keep in touch. The interface also hides the hang-up and mute buttons so that your little ones won’t inadvertently drop the call in their enthusiasm.

Those effects and masks are also coming to all one-on-one chats on both Android and iOS this week, starting with a Mother’s Day effect.

And yes, group chats will get easier. Google is planning to introduce group Duo calls on the web in the “coming weeks.” It’ll only be available as a Chrome preview when it does, but it’ll include a new layout that allows more people at the same time. It’ll also be easy to join in — much like other group chat services, you can invite anyone with an account by sending a link. The company is not-so-subtly offering this as an alternative to Google Meet and Zoom, and it might do the trick if you already use Duo but want to make it a mainstay for work, school or friend get-togethers.

Google Duo family mode animation