Google Meet adding blurred backgrounds, images, and other new features

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Google Meet 1
Google Meet's new features will help it to better take on Zoom.
Photo: Google Meet

Thanks to people working from home and coronavirus lockdown, 2020 has been the year of videoconferencing apps — and Google Meet is adding a few new features to try and take on rival Zoom.

According to a new report from 9to5Google, Google Meet is working on new features that will allow users to add images or blur the background of their video calls. This is a feature that already exists for Zoom and Skype users, although this will be the first time it’s available on Google meet.

5 ways to look great on a video call

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Lighting? Check. Clothes? Maybe. Teeth? Absolutely! Flattering angle? Nope. Use these videoconferencing tips to look your best on calls.
Lighting? Check. Clothes? Maybe. Teeth? Absolutely! Flattering angle? Nope.
Photo: Austin Distel/Unsplash

Whether you’re working from home, hanging out with friends on group FaceTime, or attending events remotely, you’re probably using video calling a lot more than you ever have before. While you probably make the effort to present yourself well in real-life meatspace, on Skype, Zoom or FaceTime, I bet you look terrible.

Fear not. Today we’ll see five ways to make sure you look great on a video call.

Give your videoconferencing calls killer audio quality

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Not every videoconference audio setup has to be as janky as this.
Not every videoconference audio setup has to be as janky as this.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You’ve probably made more video calls in the last few weeks than you’ve made in the previous few years combined. And if they were on your iPhone or iPad, then they probably sounded great. But what if you’re using a Mac, with its prehistoric mics1?

No worries. Through the magic of technology, you can use a better mic with your Mac’s Skype or FaceTime. (As a bonus, it also might make you feel more comfortable during videoconferences.)

Using Zoom? Take these steps to protect your privacy [Updated]

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yoga class zoom
Zoom lets you keep attending your local yoga class, but at what cost?
Photo: Anupam Mahapatra/Unsplash

Video-conferencing tool Zoom is seeing a surge in use during the coronavirus pandemic, due to people being stuck at home and unable to meet in meatspace groups. I’ve read about people using Zoom to drop in on yoga and pilates classes, as well as for more usual business-related activities.

KUBI: The Web-Controlled Stand For Hands-Free Video Chats [Deals]

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CoM - KUBI

If you’ve been looking for an innovative and versatile stand for your tablet, then look no further because Cult of Mac Deals has a great offer lined up for you. It’s called KUBI.

The KUBI has two things really going for it right off the bat: a quality design and an amazing user experience. It allows you to connect with anyone via video conferencing and it also gives you the freedom to look around the room in real-time, which truly makes using KUBI a one-of-a-kind experience. The other things it has going for it is the pre-sales price we’ve got here at Cult of Mac Deals – only $259.

Brabus iBusiness 2.0 Revises the iPad Car

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Brabus iBusiness 2.0

If you haven’t scored your iPad 2 yet, and are also looking for some sporty wheels, high-end Mercedes-Benz customizer Brabus has the package for you. Updating their iBusiness package that we reported on last year, the new version modernizes hardware and ups the specs for this next (fast) lap around the sun.

The iBusiness 2.0 package is available for all S-class models. A pair of iPad 2s on adjustable keyboard trays are installed front and center (in the rear seats). These are married to a trunk-mounted Mac mini with internet access and a 15″ widescreen display – in addition to the seatback headrest displays! Videoconferencing, in-flight television and passenger control of many vehicle functions are possible. A 64GB iPod Classic helps keep your tunes accessible, and WiFi and USB link it all together.

The demo model isn’t too shabby in the automotive department either: the Brabus 800 iBusiness 2.0 is housed in a Mecerdes S600 sedan that has 788 horsepower, goes 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds, and comes with rear privacy curtains and an optional Yachting wood trim package. Sweet.

Considering how much time I would spend in this car, there seem to be a shortage of cupholders…

[via Motor Trend]

Woah! 200 Million FaceTime Devices In 2012, Analyst Predicts

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iPhone4_steve_jobs_facetime_pic12_610

We’ll all be videoconferencing like crazy in 2012, predicts Barclay’s analyst Ben Reitzes.

By the end of 2012, Apple’s installed base of FaceTime devices will exceed 200 million, Reitzes predicts.

That’s based on more than 85 million FaceTime-enabled devices by the end of 2011:

  • 50 million FaceTime iPhones
  • 15 million FaceTime iPods
  • 12 million FaceTime Macs
  • 10 million FaceTime iPads

In 2012, Apple’s video conferencing platform will only gather momentum, driven by what he’s calling the “FaceTime networking effect.”

“While Android and competitive devices either have or are working toward incorporating a similar feature, we believe this particular feature benefits from Apple’s vertically integrated model,” Reitzes said. “Experiences across disparate hardware platforms tend to vary–with Apple’s one of the most reliable in our trials. Also, this feature allows Apple to mine the millions of iTunes users who have Apple ID’s–and provide an attractive feature across devices that can be put into use immediately. We believe the ‘FaceTime networking effect’ could enhance a halo effect on Macs and iPads as the feature becomes available.”

AllThingsD: 200 Million FaceTime-Enabled Devices in 2012?