Google Hangouts vs Google Duo – Which Should You Use?

When talking about Google apps and services, quality is always the watchword. Google is everywhere, and even if you’re not an Android device user, you rely on Google for pretty much everything. After all, a Google account is a gateway to many other services.

Google Hangouts vs Google Duo - Which Should You Use?

When it comes to social media platforms, video calling, and messaging apps, however, Google took a little time to figure things out. There’s Google Duo and Google Hangouts, coexisting out there. Do you use just one or both? And how do the two apps compare?

How Are They Similar?

Apart from being Google products, these two apps have other things in common. The main thing being that they both facilitate video calls. And this is the age of video calling. What was once a futuristic dream is a part of the daily lives of people across the globe. Hangouts have been around for much longer than Duo and the video calling option was a natural extension of its many features.

Both Duo and Hangouts have that familiar Google user-friendly interface, and both use color as a point of difference. The logos tell you a story about what each app is meant to primarily do and makes navigation easy. Also, both offer a support group calling feature. Additionally, they’re both available across all platforms and in every corner of the world.


How Are They Different?

As with all of its products, Google meant to give Duo and Hangouts different purposes. And since Hangouts is more oriented towards messaging features, Duo is designed exclusively for video calling. In the golden era of video calling, Google believes that you need an app to simplify it all. A lot of apps have a video calling feature now, but none of them makes it an exclusive feature like Duo.

On the other hand, Hangouts can be used for more than one purpose. You can even send SMS and create group chats, and you can also make phone calls that don’t involve video, which can be very practical sometimes. You can also use Hangouts to send your current location and other similar features.

Duo Winning Features

Duo doesn’t pretend that it’s anything other than what’s advertised. It wants to be your go-to video calling app. It’s stripped of all other features that some people might find lacking, for the sole purpose of ensuring a high-quality video calling experience. And compared to Hangouts, the video calls are of a better quality.

Sure, no one can deny that the most important component of a successful video call is a stable internet connection. And Hangouts and Duo are supposed to use the same servers as well. But overall for a smoother transition from Wi-Fi to mobile data and vice versa, Duo does a better job.

To make video calling even more unique, Duo has a “Knock Knock” feature that other apps with video calling abilities, including Hangouts, don’t have. This simply means that once you initiate a video call to someone, Duo will start recording you and the person you’re calling will be able to see you. They won’t have the audio though.

Apart from seeing your name and picture on the screen when you call, they’ll also see your smiling face, so they know that you’re excited to talk to them. This feature is truly unique and can be creatively used. But if you’re not aware of it, things can get confusing, and the person you’re calling might think that their camera started recording. But using Duo more than once fixes that.

Google Hangouts

Hangouts Winning Features

Given the fact that Duo is marketed as an app with a singular task, it’s not particularly useful to compare Duo and Hangouts in the sense of which one has more features. It’s clear that Hangouts is meant to provide a broader service than Duo. You can use it for sending text messages, pictures, and videos. Just like you can with most messaging apps.

And when you do make video calls, you can also minimize it on the screen, so you can send messages at the same time. You also get to use the feature of storing voicemails from Google Voice. In addition, if you’re having some difficulties with Hangouts Video call quality, you can adjust the call bandwidth to make things smoother.

But one of the main advantages Hangouts has over Duo is that more people use it. When Duo first came out, users might have been dumbfounded because they weren’t sure what to do with it. Clearly, things are different now. Plus, along with Duo, Google has a text messaging app Allo that was recently discontinued. This could have created some confusion and prompted users to stick to Hangouts which offers those two features at the same time.

Google Hangouts Duo

Is It a Competition?

For people who appreciate a sleek, simple, and specific purpose from an app, Duo might be exactly what they’re looking for. And if video calling is a big part of someone’s life, why not go for an app that provides the best service. However, if what you need is multifunctionality and the ability to do more than one thing within an app, you’re better off with Hangouts. Do you prefer Duo or Hangouts? How do you make video calls? Let us know in the comments section below.

6 thoughts on “Google Hangouts vs Google Duo – Which Should You Use?”

Mary Maler says:
I had a lot of trouble with disabled sound, with Hangouts, when there were both Mac and PCs on the same call. It seemed like only one Mac could be heard at any one time, and it wasn’t always the same Mac. Never bothered to troubleshoot, just moved over to zoom.
Hilary says:
Does anyone know if Google Hangouts can use ANY computer browser? Or will it only work with Google Chrome? Someone told me they couldn’t get in on their computer because they didn’t have Chrome.
Bas says:
That is true, you have to add the Hangouts extension to Chrome. I tested it but you can also use Internet Explorer for example, go to and login with your Google account.
Victoria says:
But Duo still cannot do group calls on a computer. 🙁
Bas Jonkers says:
That is correct Victoria. Hopefully Google will add this possibility in the near future.
Shel B. says:
This is biggest strike against Duo. I won’t use it until they make group calling available on their computer app. I don’t want to look at six people on my phone screen.
Ken says:
Google Hangouts is no longer, but Google Meet continues. Google Meet has a great closed captioning for those with hearing impairments or English as a second language.
Giorgio V Elgar says:
I mean like, it still exists it’s just no longer supported
Bas Jonkers says:
It would be the best if these 2 Google apps were combined. With Duo I miss the feature where you can video call with MORE that 1 person (up to 12 people in Hangouts). Both apps can be used on both smartphone and computer now, which is great. In Duo you can drag your own video window across the screen, whereas Hangouts does not have this floating opportunity. If Duo can update to group video calls, that would be great!
K says:
You can make group video calls in Duo(up to 9 people I guess)
Bas Jonkers says:
Yes on your smartphone, but not on de web version.
bruno villemin says:
Hangouts can be used on all devices, but duo only on smartphone (because request phone number)
Tommy says:
You can SKIP the phone number step when logging into Duo for the first time with your Google account.

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