Google Meet will soon be free for everyone

29 Apr 20201.5k Views

Image: © Robert Kneschke/Stock.adobe.com

Google is rolling out its video-conferencing tool Meet to all users, providing free access to features that were previously reserved business and education customers.

Today (29 April), Google announced that it is making Google Meet, its premium video-conferencing service, free for everyone, with availability rolling out over the coming weeks.

From early May, anyone with a Gmail account can sign up for Google Meet to access the video features that were previously only available to G Suite’s business and education customers. These features include the ‘simple scheduling’ feature, screen sharing, real-time captions and changeable layouts.

Google Meet, previously known as Hangouts Meet, has been used by schools, governments, enterprises, hospitals and banks since the service was launched in 2017. The application will now take the place of Google Hangouts, which is set to be retired later this year.

A familiar tool  

Javier Soltero, vice-president of G Suite, said: “With the lines blurred between work and home, Google Meet can offer the polish needed for a work meeting, a tiled view for your online birthday party and the security needed for a video call with your doctor.

“We’re in the middle of a significant worldwide shift impacting communication from the workplace to schools to the home. People want familiar, secure tools that they can use across all facets of their lives.”

The company said that over the course of May, it will gradually expand Meet’s availability to more and more users. Google said that some users may not be able to create meetings on the platform straight away, but they can sign up to be notified when it’s available in their region.

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Google isn’t the only tech giant looking to extend video capabilities as millions try to keep in touch while staying at home. Last week, Facebook announced that the limit on the number of people on a WhatsApp video call will increase from four to eight. It is also launching Messenger Rooms, where up to 50 people can join a video call at a time.

Google’s ‘secure foundation’ for Meet

Google added that Meet has been design and built to be “secure at scale”. The company has seen Meet’s peak daily usage grow since coronavirus restrictions were rolled out around the world.

In April 2020, Meet’s daily meeting participants surpassed 100m, adding 3m new users per day, according to Google.

“With this growth comes great responsibility,” the company wrote in a statement. “Privacy and security are paramount, no matter if it’s a doctor sharing confidential health information with a patient, a financial adviser hosting a client meeting, or people virtually connecting with each other for graduations, holidays and happy hours.”

The company said that Google Meet operates on a “secure foundation” that provides users with the protections needed to keep them safe, their data secure and their information private.

As concerns mounted earlier this month about the security of rival platform Zoom, Google said that Meet provides a strong set of host controls, such as the ability to admit or deny entry to a meeting, and mute or remove participants if needed.

Google said that Meet’s meeting codes are “complex by default and therefore resilient to brute-force guessing”. According to the company, Google Meet’s video recordings are encrypted in transit and in Google Drive.

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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