Google has officially started the process of merging its two video chat apps, Google Meet and Google Duo. Google announced the merger in June, with a plan to keep the Google Meet brand name while integrating the two best code bases into the Google Duo app. According to Google’s PR email (no links, sorry), people will start seeing the Duo app and website branding switch to Google Meet this week. All of Google’s rebranding is in the process of being rolled out, so it will arrive at different times for different people, but Google says the full rebranding should be over for everyone by September.
So Google Duo has been renamed Google Meet, and the current Google Meet app has been holding up for some time. This means that there is now two Applications called “Google Meet”. Google has a help article detailing this very confusing situation, and calls the two Meet apps “Google Meet: Updated Meet” and “Google Meet: Updated Duo”. “Google Meet (Original)” will be rolling out someday on pastures; It just wanders while Google recreates meeting functionality on top of Google Duo. Did everyone follow it?
Both the Meet and Duo video services were created as a response to Google’s more stable communication competition. Google Meet was technically built in 2017 as a group video chat app for business called Google Hangouts Meet, but it became a really big project after Zoom’s growth exploded in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Google Meet was still locked behind a firewall during the early months of the work-from-home era, and while it eventually became as easy to use as Zoom, that was after Zoom became a household name.
Google Duo appeared in 2016 along with the “companion app” Google Allo as a reaction to the growth of WhatsApp. Google and Facebook got into a $22 billion bidding war on WhatsApp two years ago. Google lost out and spent the next two years creating a version of WhatsApp called Google Allo. Instead of integrating video chat into the app, Google has split the video functionality into a separate app called Google Duo. WhatsApp did not have video chat at that time, so you can use Google Duo video chat with WhatsApp on Facebook or The Allo app from Google, if you like.
Allo and Duo originally focused on India, which led Duo to build a one-on-one video chat system that uses little bandwidth and works well on unstable connections. This powerful video chat system will be the basis for the new built-in app, with Google creating and renaming the Meet in Duo meeting link functionality. Perhaps the installation base is also a factor here. As the default Android app, Google Duo has more than 5 billion downloads on the Play Store, while Meet alone has 100 million downloads. Google’s path makes a smoother transition for those 5 billion installs, while 100 million will have to switch manually. Google says it will hide the old and original Google Meet app from App Store searches in September. Eventually, it will need to implement a pop-up message for existing users of the old Google Meet telling them to upgrade.
The move occurs because Google “unified” its messaging teams in 2020, with one person, Google Workspace VP and GM Javier Soltero, taking charge of “all of Google’s team communication products”. That should mean that Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Google Chat, Google Messages, Google Duo, Google Voice, and even Google have rolled out an Android phone app for good measure. It was announced last month that Soltero will be leaving Google, though, as it’s only two years into the messaging job. No one knows who, if anyone, takes the position of the new ‘Leader of Messages’. Soltero’s plan is still in the works, although along with the merger between Meet and Duo, Hangouts will finally be shutting down in a few months. This new, more cohesive group will leave one Google Video app and three Google Chat apps.