You can make Duo calls to Android phones that don't have the app installed

If you want to make video calls on an Android device, Google Duo is easily your best bet. Google's added a lot of new features and improvements since its release in 2016, but like any other communications app, it's faced the same issue of forcing you to encourage your friends and family members to actually download it so you can talk to them.

The folks at Android Police recently did some digging around, and it looks like Google actually has a solution for this. With the latest version of Google Duo, you can still successfully call a contact on your phone even if they don't have Duo installed on their end.

As you can see in Android Police's video below, a call is made to an Android phone that doesn't have Duo installed, but it still receives the call as if it did have the app. Duo's Knock-Knock feature is present to show what the incoming caller's camera sees, you can swipe up to answer/swipe down to decline, and once the call is accepted, you've got regular controls for turning your camera flash on and muting the microphone.

Once you end the call, a pop-up message appears asking if you'd like to install Duo, in addition to blocking that person from calling you again. The whole process looks ridiculously sleek, and it has the potential to solve one of Duo's biggest hurdles. This only works on Android phones as it uses Google's App Preview Messaging service that was first used with Allo in 2016, so trying to call iPhone users that don't have the app still won't work.

Even so, this is a huge step for Duo and one that could finally make it the mainstream video calling app Android needs.

Lead Google Duo engineer teases group calls, web app, and more

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

33 Comments
  • Nah, WhatsApp is better. Nice addition though, well done Google.
  • They are better at gaping security flaws that's true.
  • Well,Since WhatsApp needs both parties to have downloaded the whatsapp app and Duo does not, I think you're wrong. Nice try tho
  • Good luck video calling someone who has an iPhone using Duo. WhatsApp has no such problem. I literally know nobody who uses Duo whereas I don't know anyone who doesn't use WhatsApp
  • Opposite here so what's your point?
  • My point is a hell of a lot more people use FaceTime/iMessage and WhatsApp and getting people to install Duo on their phones, especially iPhone's is never gonna happen
  • Everyone uses WhatsApp.
    No one even knows what the f*ck is Duo.
    So...there's that to take into account.
  • Used both, Duo is better quality
  • Maybe video quality is better but please explain how you send messages and share media on Duo too?
  • "This only works on Android phones as it uses Google's App Preview Messaging service that was first used with Allo in 2016" - Will this be specific to OS version or any user action dependent ?
  • More then likely yes!! Probably from where instant apps started with the first OS that had it can't remember which one.
  • Good but if there is no support for iOS to do this then not good enough.
  • No one says that with Apples facetime and it's locked to only ios users
    If this can make duo calling as easy as apple facetime, no app needed to install first, just works then I'd say it's a proper Android version of facetime.
    remember their are still way more android users in the world than ios. Google now just take allo, add sms support tied to your phone # and make it an instant app like duo and you'll finally have your facetime/imessage competitor.
  • +1
  • Maybe what dejanh meant was that if this doesn't work on iOS then does it really matter. For me, 90% of family and friends are on iPhone and iOS. This feature means nothing to me because I still don't have a universal way of video chatting with them. So I kind of agree with dejanh. It's a great faeture and welcomed, but I still can't talk to the 90% of family and friends unless I get then to download an app which BTW, never happens. They just tell me, "get an iphone".
  • This^ rchapman80
  • This is exactly what I meant. I think the iPhone still holds about 45% of market share in North America. This means that you are guaranteed not to be able to use this with 1/2 of the population. Adding to this, Google's App Preview definitely does not work on most Android devices either which further reduces the other 1/2. Not many phones/vendors support it. Right direction but far from a solution.
  • Well, maybe iOS could take some responsibility and open up the platform. I mean, why do people expect Android to accommodate iOS and not the other way around?
  • iMessage and FaceTime are too big for Apple to share. They're 2 of the biggest reasons people stay on that platform. If you could have iMessage and FaceTime on Android phones then Apple would be in trouble. They're happy to share Apple Music etc but that's it
  • exactly. the only way apple would open iMessage and Facetime is if they think they could charge Android users for that service and make money.
  • I agree. it's just a tired story. Apple should find a way to work with the rest of the world.
  • This is what got blackberry and bbm in trouble. They were the kings of phone and messaging. Keep it closed for too long and it will eventually fail. Need to watch for potential disruptors and then adjust quickly. Side note. New bbm is pretty darn good for cross-platform video and calls.
  • Tried this using my Pixel 2 with Duo installed. Tried to call my Galaxy s7 work phone and it only gave me the option to send an invite. I also noticed only some of my contacs have the option to video call them and others are invite only. How does it determine the difference.
  • I believe that it is dependent on whether the device and the Android OS support Google's App Preview. Not all Android devices and OS versions support this.
  • My wife video chats with our daughter and granddaughter on Snapchat. My wife is on an S8+, our daughter is on iPhone and our granddaughter uses an iPad. Seems to work well for them.
  • Yay!
  • Until they merge it with Allo and make it a one stop shop for messaging and video calling (like erm... Hangouts) then it's never gonna gain traction and compete with the big boys. People don't want one app for video calling and another for instant messaging so have no reason to switch from apps that already do so like Skype, FB Messenger or the one that everyone uses already and us used to - WhatsApp
  • What if you want to video call from or to a table instead (a wifi only table). Can you still be able to made or receive a video call?. If not, someone please explain to me what would be the alternative to do that.
  • Well i don't see the use of this app, everybody uses WhatsApp so no need for another clone
  • I got my entire family, some friends, and my girlfriend to use it over FaceTime. Duo is awesome and word is that it's about to support group calls soon!
  • How does this work? I have an Htc U11, when I try this it only tries to invite..
  • Many times duo just flat out doesn't work. I've tested it with my phone and another multiple times and the phone I'm calling doesn't even ring but will show a notification of a missed call a minute or two later. They really need to fix this if they want people take it serious.
  • That can use some clarification: you can make Duo calls to the phones that have not had app previously installed and/or number registered with Duo. If you would uninstall the app from the phone, your calls to that phone will keep ringing on the caller's side with no indication of the incoming call on the receiving side.
    I found that out when I was trying to demonstrate to someone how the functionality in the article works... I guess he is not a potential Duo user any more :)