Making a video call from your phone is getting a little easier thanks to some help from your favorite assistant — that is to say, Google Assistant. At long last, Google’s A.I.-powered helper will allow you to start a video call on Duo, its video calling service. Once you’ve activated Google Assistant, you should now be able to say, “video call [insert contact name here]” and Assistant will oblige, after first confirming that you do in fact want to make a video call on Duo. From there, you should be able to see and chat with your counterpart — simple as pie.
If you or your contact don’t have Google Duo installed, you may see Hangouts being used in place of the service. Google’s Duosupport page about now includes mention of Assistant. It reads simply, “If you use the Google Assistant: You can start a Duo video call by saying or typing, ‘Video call [name].'”
You should be able to make calls to anyone and everyone in your contacts, and all calls will be made either through mobile data or a Wi-Fi connection. It seems as though the ability to invoke a call using Assistant is still in the rolling out process, as not everyone who has tried the feature has gotten it to work. While Duo opens up for most folks after their command, not everyone is able to actually then make a call. It’s likely that this little bug will be resolved in the coming days as the new capability gains more traction.
As Google did not make a formal announcement about this functionality, it’s not entirely clear how long it’s actually been working.
Duo has been making quite a few updates recently. Back in March, Google updated the video calling app to give users the option of leaving a video message. These messages can be up to 30 seconds long, and can be sent directly to another user, who will be able to see the message within the Duo app. There’s also a “Call Now” button that you can use to return the missed call after watching the message.