Google Duo is an app with an interesting story. Initially launched in combo with Google Allo, a failed messaging app that has since been discontinued by Google, Google Duo didn’t see the same level of failure as its messaging counterpart. In fact, it has grown into a full-fledged FaceTime alternative available for Android devices. It allows users to easily and painlessly video chat with each other, and it has since started supporting other features, such as video messaging and audio-only calls. Until now, though, the app required a phone number in order to function properly on mobile phones. This requirement is now being lifted (for the web version, at least).
Now, a silent update to the Duo app on the web has given users the ability to use the service without linking their accounts to a phone number–you only need your Google account in order to get chatting. This way, you can video chat with Duo users without actually requiring a phone or a phone number. While most people have a usable phone number anyway, this unlocks the capability of using it without one. Using Duo without a phone number is pretty much the same web experience as using it with one, with the only difference being that it throws a bunch of warnings encouraging you to use a phone number. You’re able to place and receive calls normally.
A regular Google Duo call (left) versus an email-only Duo call (right). Image credits: Android Police.
The big issue with this, though, is that you can’t call from a regular Duo account to an email-only one as straightforwardly. As Duo uses your phone’s phonebook for its contact list, there’s no way to see email-only accounts, and you can’t search for them either. The only way to call an email-only account is through the call history if that person has already called you before. So if you take this into account, you begin to see how limited using Duo without a phone number is. Nonetheless, if you don’t mind this, there is the option.
Source: Android Police