Samsung is working to integrate Google Duo into One UI’s Messages app
Google Duo is one of the most popular video calling apps on Android. It was released along with Allo in 2016. While Allo was retired in favor of RCS in Android Messages, Google Duo has survived the test of time and has become a success story. It remains Google’s first-party video calling app on Android even after three years, which was a feat that Hangouts couldn’t achieve. Duo is a part of Google Mobile Services (GMS), and it has been integrated in Messages, which is Google’s app for SMS and RCS on Android. Now, a report by The Korea Herald states that Samsung is expected to integrate Google Duo in its Samsung Messages–its own SMS and RCS messaging app on One UI. The report has been corroborated by an APK teardown done by 9to5Google.
The Korea Herald states that Samsung’s upcoming phones (the Galaxy S20 series and the flip phone Galaxy Z Flip) are expected to feature a video chat service supported by Android, that is Google Duo. There ongoing trilateral talks going on between Samsung, South Korean mobile carrier SK Telecom and Google on starting a video messaging service on Samsung’s Android phones. This plan includes linking Google Duo with Samsung Messages. Users will be able to make video messages of less than 5MB without any data charges. This would be the differentiating factor when compared with a simple download of the app; Samsung’s integration will be based on RCS.
The report states that the video chat service would be usable alongside the default messaging feature on Samsung phones supported by carriers SKT, KT, and LG Uplus in South Korea, and users won’t have to download the app or pay any extra charges for using it. At CES this month, SKT’s CEO hinted that Samsung’s upcoming clamshell foldable phone may feature a video chat service, supported by RCS. This foldable phone is said to be called the Galaxy Z Flip, and most of its specifications have been detailed by Max. The Korea Herald also quotes a Samsung official as stating that Samsung is planning to launch various types of foldable phones under the Galaxy Z series.
9to5Google did an APK teardown of the latest version of Samsung Messages and found strings that have a direct mention of users being able to call someone using either Google Duo or the default video calling app of their phone. This would make it similar to Android Messages, where users can tap a button in the message screen to initiate a Duo call with the person they are conversing with. The full details of the integration are said to be unclear as Samsung or Google haven’t made an announcement yet.
The Samsung Messages app’s assets contain the monochrome and color versions of Google Duo as well as a logo to denote an audio-only Duo call. The 9to5Google report states that one of the icons seems to be placed side-by-side with the call, search, and menu buttons found along the top of the conversation view. The final piece of the evidence is that Samsung Messages is preparing a way to create an Android Intent to start a Google Duo video call to a particular phone number, which is the expected result of a user’s action to tap the upcoming Duo button.
As of now, it remains unknown whether the Samsung Messages-Google Duo integration will be based on RCS only in South Korea or will it work globally. The advantage of RCS-based integration is that it will save users’ costs. It’s probable to expect an announcement of the feature to be made in the coming weeks.