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Video chat has become increasingly important in recent weeks as everyone is stuck at home, and Google is reacting to that by improving its Duo chat app in four key ways.

Posting on the Google Blog, Dave Citron, Group Product Manager on the Duo team, has set out the four ways the video chat service is set to improve in the coming weeks. Top of the list is the adoption of new video codec technology called AV1, which Google claims will not only greatly improve video call quality, it will make for more reliable calls even if you’re using a very low bandwidth connection.

AV1 is coming in the next few weeks, however, as of yesterday another new feature became available in the form of taking photos to capture a moment, regardless of whether you’re using a smartphone, tablet, or Chromebook to access Duo. For now, the photo capture works when you’re on a call with one other person, but Google is planning to roll it out for group chats and more devices “soon.”

It’s already possible to send personalized video and voice messages to people complete with augmented reality effects instead of having a live chat. One limitation of this feature is the messages expiring after 24 hours. Google is promising to change that soon so those messages can be kept forever. They will never expire. Combined with the photo feature, it should be easy to build a growing collection of memories with your closest friends and family during the pandemic.

Finally, Google is set to increase the number of people who can take part in a group video chat. It was eight people, but Google increased the total to 12 last month. Now, though, we can expect the number to increase again “even further,” but the new upper limit hasn’t been revealed yet.

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