With the coronavirus pandemic keeping most of us at home, video calling is something that’s seen a dramatic rise. That’s particularly true in the case of group video calling, as teams and companies that are working remotely still need to conference with one another. Zoom has been in the news a lot lately as the go-to for many people who are looking to set up virtual meetings, but today, Google made a whopper of an announcement in revealing that it’s making Google Meet free for everyone to use.
Typically, Google Meet is offered as a premium service, so Google is definitely going after Zoom’s market share pretty aggressively here. You may not be able to access Google Meet right away, though, as Google says this will be a phased roll out so it can keep Meet stable as it launches for more and more users. You can see if you can create a meeting over at meet.google.com, but if you can’t, Google also has a tool you can use to sign up for more information on when Meet is available.
Google anticipates having its roll out complete by early May, after which point anyone with an email address can sign up for a Meet account. In an effort to pull pull people away from Zoom, much of Google’s announcement today focused on the security features of Meet. Specifically, the company says, meeting hosts are able to approve or deny entry to meetings and they can also mute or kick people from the call.
Another positive is that anonymous users can’t join meetings that were created by individual account, and Google makes meeting codes complex on purpose to prevent unsavory folks from brute forcing their way into rooms and disrupting things. Google also encrypts meetings when they’re in transit, while recordings of those meetings are encrypted all the time when they’re stored in Google Drive. Meet data isn’t used for advertising or sold to third-parties, and Google also notes that Meet’s ability to run directly in-browser without the need for plugins helps keep things secure.
The way you’ll access this free version of Google Meet depends on whether you’re an individual, a group or a team, a business, or a school. Individuals will be able to go to the Meet website and sign in with their Google account to access the premium version of Meet until September 30th, which includes features like screen sharing, real-time captions, scheduling through Google Calendar, and no time limits on meetings.
Groups and teams will be able to access to Google Meet through G Suite Essentials, which is similarly free through September 30th; those interested in signing up can do so by filling out a form on the Google Meet website. Existing G Suite customers – whether those are businesses or schools that have G Suite for Education – already have access to Meet through their subscriptions, but Google is allowing businesses access to Meet’s advanced features, such as livestreaming to up to 100,000 people at once.
So, there you have it: if the horror stories about Zoom’s security issues have you second guessing your choice of meeting software, Google Meet is suddenly a new option to check out. You can read more about it over on the Google Blog, but otherwise, hit the links above to sign up for more information about when Google Meet will be available to everyone.