(Credit: Google)

If you're using an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to make video calls, you're probably defaulting to FaceTime, and for good reason. It's tightly integrated into iOS and MacOS, it's easy to understand how to use, and it uses end-to-end encryption to help protect the privacy of your conversations. That said, there are several interesting third-party alternatives, and one of them, Google Duo, is now available in a version optimized for Apple's iPad tablets.

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There are a few reasons why FaceTime fans might want to take a look at Duo. For one, it works across platforms, so you can chat with Android-wielding normies instead of being limited to other iOS and MacOS users.

Two, if someone doesn't answer your Duo call, you can leave a video voice mail, instead of having to settle for an impersonal notification pop-up. There's also the Knock Knock feature, where the caller can send you a live video preview of themselves without you having to answer.

Lastly, Google claims that Duo has the best image quality and connection reliability of any video calling app, which may be surprising until you consider that they've been doing streaming optimizations on YouTube for years. Either way, if this claim turns out not to be true in your case, you can always switch back to FaceTime or something else without having lost any money, because Duo is completely free to use.

About the only thing that doesn't work in the iOS version of Google Duo is the option to use the Knock Knock feature on your lock screen. That requires deeper access into iOS than Apple allows a third-party app to have, for security reasons. If you don't want to use Knock Knock at all, you can just disable it in Duo's settings.

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Granted, tablets haven't become the replacements for laptops and desktop PCs that some pundits predicted, but Apple still sold nearly 25 million iPads in the first half of fiscal year 2018. Their tablets are a success by any measure and fertile ground for app developers, even as we see Android tablets struggle to maintain footing in the market.

Apple is reportedly readying a new iPad Pro for release this fall, possibly with Face ID, thin bezels, fast charging, and other perks influenced by the sales figures of the iPhone X released last year. The Pro version has cultivated a positive rep among visual artists, while the regular iPad is widely regarded as the most well-rounded tablet on the market.

Couple that with Apple's support cycle that keeps feeding you regular iOS updates for several years after your purchase, and it's going to take a big splash from Google or one of its partners for Android tablets to regain some momentum. In the meantime, though, both sides of the tech war can now fully embrace Google Duo.

The takeaways

  1. Google has released an iPad-optimized version of its free Duo video chat app, downloadable from the App Store today.
  2. Apple's iPad tablets remain strong sellers that the company keeps updated for several years after purchase, and new versions may be on the way this fall.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.