Video chats and conferences have been around for a long time but Zoom might be credited for making it trendy during the pandemic. It also made people realize that not everyone may have space, much less a wall, fit for such online interactions, and, soon, almost all video chat services have started allowing users to change their backgrounds. Google Meet has also had that capability for a while now but it’s only now that its Android app is getting that feature even as it expands the Web version’s capability to go beyond static images.
It may sound like just a whimsical feature but being able to change your background has important implications. As more people got thrown into remote work situations, some of them find themselves scrambling to set up a more proper space for such calls. Changing backgrounds not only removes the stress from that pressure but also offers a slice of privacy knowing that others won’t be able to see what’s behind you.
That feature has long been on Google Meet on Web browsers but it is only now coming to Android. You can choose from Google’s own selection of backgrounds or upload your own, preferably something acceptable to everyone participating in the meeting. This feature is still coming to iOS and is seemingly limited to G Suite and Google Workspace customers only.
Google Meet desktop users, on the other hand, can now select videos to use as their background instead of static images. Again, you can select from what Google provides, currently limited to a classroom, a party, and a forest. This list will be expanding, Google promises, and will bring this same feature to mobile in the near future. This one is open to anyone, including those with personal Google accounts only.
Of course, these features are also a way for Google to show off some of its AI and computer vision chops. Custom backgrounds have become notorious for producing some hilarity because of how the software fails to take into account some colors, hair forms, or facial features. Having a video playing behind you is pretty much Google’s way of flaunting its talent.