Google Duo gets new low-light mode for late-night video chats


Anyone who’s tried to video chat at nighttime has likely been forced to turn on more lights so that the other person can actually see them. Most smartphone cameras are notorious for their inability to shoot quality video in low-light conditions. Now, late-night video chatters don’t have to turn on every light in the room just to have a visible conversation.

Google’s wildly popular free video chatting app, Duo, now has a low-light mode. The feature automatically detects situations with poor lighting and adjusts the picture to help illuminate the chatter.

Here’s how to use the new nighttime mode in Google Duo:

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To take advantage of Google Duo’s new low-light mode, the first thing users need to do is start a video call. From there, a button on the left side of the screen (in standard set-up) will appear above the options to flip the camera and mute the microphone. The new button looks like a halfway illuminated sun. When the caller taps the button, Duo automatically enhances the lighting.

GIF: Google

Duo users can easily take advantage of the new low-light feature regardless of what device they are using. It is important to note that results will vary based on certain environmental and hardware factors.

Though Google doesn’t give many details on how it accomplishes illumination within the video chat frame, the only thing that really matters is that it works. Fortunately, the feature certainly checks that box. The only mechanism that has been confirmed is that low-light mode boosts image exposure based on lighting conditions to create a better picture.

Lighting for Everyone

Interestingly, Google is rolling out the low-light feature following feedback from users in less affluent situations. In a company blog post it states, “In many places, electric lighting is a significant challenge…People often light their homes with a single bulb when electricity is expensive, and even then, power outages remain common in many areas.”

Since Duo is completely free to use (and is compatible across iOS and Android) it has quickly become a go-to app for keeping families and friends connected. Much like WhatsApp, Duo has a demographically diverse user base. Of course, everyone will benefit from the new low-light mode.

The new feature seems to fall directly in line with Google’s recent crusade to ensure all camera images are well-lit. Its line of Pixel smartphones features a “Night Sight” mode. That tool is a powerful one, eliminating the need for a retina-searing flash in many instances. It is rumored that Duo’s new feature might utilize some of the same technology.

Low-light mode on Duo is now rolling out to users worldwide and should be available to everyone via an app update very soon.