Inspired by SharePlay, Google Duo video chat app adds real-time sharing function

Google today introduced a new “Live Share” feature for users of its Google Duo video calling service, an improvement over Apple’s FaceTime SharePlay feature.

In Google’s case, however, this interactive, co-viewing experience isn’t as powerful or widely available as Apple’s. First, it only works with a handful of Google and Samsung phones. And, at launch, it was a Samsung exclusive.

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The changes were announced as part of Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event, the smartphone showed off its new Galaxy S22 series and Galaxy Tab S8 series of devices. On a related note, Google also shared a handful of updates to its own apps, such as Duo and YouTube.

Google Duo’s Live Share feature is one of the more notable changes, as it addresses similar use cases to SharePlay, which, like SharePlay, is also compatible with the COVID-19 pandemic-induced video calls with friends, family, and colleagues.

Connected with the trend of remote interaction. Today, people want to be able to do more in video chat than just talk. They also want to be able to watch content together, interact with the same apps, and share their screens. The duo meets these needs to some extent but doesn’t have the extensive third-party app integration ecosystem that SharePlay offers.

With the update to Duo, Google says, users will be able to brainstorm ideas using Google’s digital whiteboard, Jamboard, share photos with Gallery, share notes with Samsung Notes, search for locations in Google Maps, and watch videos together on YouTube.

In contrast, Apple’s SharePlay has worked with more apps and services from the start, including many top streaming services such as Disney+, NBA, TikTok, Twitch, Paramount+ and Showtime, as well as Apple’s own apps such as Apple TV+, Apple Music and Apple Fitness. Sadly, Google declined to say when asked if it planned to make Duo a more feature-rich service over time. There is also no word on the developer API platform.

But the company did point out that it won’t be a Samsung exclusive in the long run. The feature will roll out first on the latest Samsung devices, including the Galaxy S22 and Tab S8. It will roll out to other Samsung devices and Pixel devices soon, and then to other Android devices later in 2022.

In addition to Duo’s live sharing, another update brings YouTube users the ability to see a preview of a YouTube video in Messages to better decide whether to watch the video now or later. Users can also click to play the video without leaving the chat. This feature will appear on all Android phones except Android (Go edition) devices.

Also, the new Galaxy S22 series and Galaxy Tab S8 series devices will now no longer require users to download a separate app for voice access as it will be built-in. The company says the device will support Material You, Google’s new personalization design language.

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