Google Meet goes free to tackle Zoom’s lockdown dominance

By

Google Meet 1
From live transcription to 100-person support, Google Meets is packed with features.
Photo: Google Meet

To lend a helping hand during coronavirus lockdown, Google Wednesday announced that it will be making its premium videoconferencing service Google Meet free to users starting in the next few weeks.

Google Meet is the business-oriented version of Google Hangouts. It supports up to 100 callers with no time limits on conversations, making it a good enterprise-focused video chat tool. While normally Google Meet comes with a price tag attached, it’s now free to all Google users through September 30.

Other features offered by Google Meet include screen sharing, real-time captions, an expanded tiled view to show more users at once, and more.

In a blog post, Google writes that:

“Over the past few months, we’ve seen the power of video meetings bring us together—whether we’re working with teammates, talking to healthcare professionals, sharing with loved ones, or learning from home. Today, we’re making Google Meet, our premium video conferencing product, free for everyone, with availability rolling out over the coming weeks.”

The service will be available to anyone with a Google email address for free, starting early May.

Google puts security first

Known for its social good initiatives, there’s no doubt that Google is making this tool available for benevolent reasons. But there’s also a big market opportunity if it is able to topple Zoom. Right now, Zoom is lording it over other videoconferencing services, despite numerous security issues being raised about the service.

In its blog post, Google highlights the security of its service. It also points out that it provides “a strong set of host controls such as the ability to admit or deny entry to a meeting, and mute or remove participants” where needed. It’s also impossible for anonymous users without a Google account to join meetings, stopping the threat of Zoombombing-style attacks. Google additionally notes that meeting codes are complex by default and therefore resilient to brute-force “guessing” by hackers. Finally, video meetings are encrypted in transit, adding another level of security.

Which video-calling app have you been using during lockdown? Let us know in the comments below.