Google is taking further moves in the video chat space during the coronavirus pandemic, and is now offering the premium video conferencing service Google Meet free to consumers. The Google Mate app was previously only available to organizations using G Suite, and is now open to everyone, in a move that puts Google in competition with rival video chatting service Zoom.
While Google Hangouts and Duo were previously available for informal video chatting, Meet allows up to 100 participants on a call at one time, and includes features like scheduling, screen sharing, and captioning in real time.
The free version of Google Meet requires the creation of a free Google account. The maximum for video calls will be 60 minutes, but Google has said it will not impose this limit until after September 30th.
Google has also put in place a number of default privacy protections in Meet, including host controls (such as the ability to accept or deny entry to a meeting, and mute or remove participants), complex meeting codes and encryption in transit. This appears to target Zoom, which has seen a massive surge in users after starting its e-learning operations – but recently encountered a number of security issues, including “Zoombombing” meetings for uninvited guests.
Google isn’t the only tech company looking to gain some Zoom business – Facebook, Skype, and Microsoft all recently released new free group video chat features and services.
Google Mate began rolling out its free version earlier this month. You will be able to use the video chat service on the web at meet.google.com and on the mobile apps for iOS or Android.
How to use Google Meet for free
To sign up for the free edition of Google Meet, go to the Google Meet page. Enter your name, email, country, and primary use for Google Meet (personal, business, educational, or government). Agree to Google’s terms of service, and hit submit.
Once registered, here’s how to use the free version of Google Meet: