Google Duo adding group calls on the web, link invites, and family mode

Work and personal video calling are surging in light of COVID-19, with Google announcing a handful of new Duo features last month to support that demand. Google Duo is soon adding group calling on the web and link sharing, as well as a family mode.

At the end of March, Google expanded group sizes in Duo from 8 to 12, with plans to increase the limit even further to 32 callers in the “coming weeks.” A “new layout that lets you see more people at the same time” was previewed this morning. There’s a six-person square grid and a carousel of faces underneath that you can scroll through.

The company announced that Duo on the web will soon support group calls after being limited to Android and iOS. This will start as a preview on Chrome.

Meanwhile, instead of choosing every contact you want on ahead of time, you’ll be able to invite anyone with a Google Account via link to the group conversation. This is similar to Google Meet’s approach, which is now available for free users.

To make video calling more kid-friendly, there is a new “family mode.” Fun capabilities include doodling that everyone on the feed can see, as well as effects and masks, which will also be available for one-to-one conversations.

When in a call, you can enable by opening the menu and tapping “Family.” One smart implementation detail sees Google hide the mute and end call buttons in this mode to prevent premature disconnects. This new feature requires that you’re signed into Duo with your Google Account.

These latest features coincide with the release of a whimsical “Everyone can Google Duo” ad that highlights web group calls and the multi-platform nature of the service.

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