Google’s video chat app Google Duo just got a new feature for the dark. This update to the Google Duo app allows the person on the receiving end of a call with a person in the dark to lighten up the situation. This feature is meant to tackle what Google suggested was “one particular condition” they saw people struggle with “across cultures and environments.” The struggle of which they spoke is poor lighting.
This feature appears as a button with a partially eclipsed sun icon. In a video chat with Google Duo, the user who sees their chat partner in the dark can tap the icon and change the way they see the other end of the conversation. The system detects and targets the face or faces on the other end of the call, not the entirety of the viewing space.
This feature is interesting, even if you’ve never used Google Duo before. Video chat apps generally allow a person to affect how they look – they, themselves, look to their chat partner. This feature changes the look of the person to whom they’re speaking.
It would appear, from here, that the button doesn’t actually change anything for the person whose face is being lightened. Instead, it’s taking the signal sent from that phone and ramps up the contrast and related adjustable image quality systems.
Google’s Niklas Blum, Google Duo’s Senior Product Manager, suggests that this low light mode in Duo “will adjust so people in the frame are more visible when the phone detects dim lighting.” Both iOS and Android smartphones will start to see availability of this feature starting this week.
Earlier this year, Google added a few other features to Google Duo for video calls on Android and iOS devices. They added Group calling for both systems, complete with end-to-end encryption. They also added video messages – both of these features appeared first in May of 2019.