Video conferencing software continues to work as the glue that connects organizations in the remote work landscape, with countless platform providers vying for our attention. This includes advertising-to-cloud computing giant Google, which is offering its Google Meet video conferencing solution to anyone with a Google account.
Still, Google Meet has no shortage of competition, with Microsoft Teams and Zoom also in this space. Zoom in particular poses a major challenge to Google Meet, which has experienced explosive growth since February 2020 and has become almost synonymous with the concept of video conferencing and remote working. Needless to say, this is an image that Google and other rival video conferencing platforms are desperate to shake off, evidenced by a steady stream of new features and improvements.
TO SEE: How to Use Google Meet (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)
We’ve already looked at how Google Meet is similar to Zoom, Teams, Cisco WebEx, and BlueJeans. If you’d like to learn more about what Meet has to offer and whether it’s a viable video conferencing solution for your business, this guide is here to tell you what you need to know.
What is Google Meet?
Google Meet is a business video conferencing service from Google that supports one-to-one video calling and group video conferencing. Google Meet users can chat with other attendees, share videos, presentations, and slides in real time from their desktop, and stream live events. Meet also offers breakout rooms, polls, Q&A and whiteboarding. Recording is also available for many paid plans.
Google Meet was previously called Google Hangouts Meets, before Google split the app into two different services: Meet for video conferencing and Google Chat for text messaging. Google Meet is Google’s answer to video conferencing and chat apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which are considered rival services.
Google Meet is available through the web browser at meet.google.com and can also be accessed from within gmail, Google Workspace and via a mobile app. Google Meet is compatible with Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, Linux, Android, and iOS/iPadOS devices.
How do I use Google Meet?
As you would expect from a Google product, the app is extremely simple and easy to use, especially if your organization already uses Google apps and services.
To use Google Meet, you must first sign in with your Google account. It can also be accessed from Google’s Gmail browser app and through dedicated mobile apps for Android and iOS devices. You can also schedule a Google Meet meeting through the Google Calendar application.
Enter . to start a video meeting from Meet https://meet.google.com then click New Meeting, select a scheduled meeting or enter a code. Once you’ve joined a meeting, you can invite other people to join via the Add people section.
Start a meeting from Gmail, open Gmail in a web browser, select Meet, and then select New Meeting, Join a Meeting, or a Scheduled Meeting. Once you join the meeting, add other people by sharing the meeting code or by adding someone via email or phone call from the Add People section.
To schedule a video meeting from Google Calendar, create an appointment, add guests, and click Add Google Meet video conference.
Is Google Meet free?
Google Meet is available for free to anyone with a Google account. The free version of Google Meet offers group video conferencing with up to 100 participants, with a maximum of 60 minutes for meetings. Paid Google Workspace plans add features as mentioned:
- Business Starter ($6 per user per month) extended the maximum meeting time to 24 hours, supports US or international dial-in numbers, and adds whiteboarding.
- Business Standard ($12 per user per month) includes all the features in Starter, supports meetings of up to 150 participants, adds noise reduction, polling and Q&A features, raise hands, breakout rooms (as shown in Figure A), and meeting recording capabilities.
- Business Plus ($18 per user per month) includes all the features in Business Standard, supports meetings of up to 500 participants, and adds attendance capabilities.
- Company editions (prices vary) offer live streaming in the domain.
Individual, Google One Premium customers ($9.99 per month) and Google Workspace Individual ($9.99 per month) both also include access to Google Meet meeting features that extend meeting limits and some of the improvements above. See the details of the plan for more information.
Do I need Google Workspace to use Google Meet?
No. Anyone with a Google account — that is, a Gmail address — can use Google Meet for free. However, only paying customers receive premium features.
Google Workspace is Google’s alternative to Microsoft 365, offering a library of collaboration and productivity tools, including Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Keep.Google Workspace is available in Individual, Basic, Business, and Enterprise editions, with additional versions available for specific sectors such as government, health care, education and non-profit.
All versions of Workspace provide access to Google Meet. Read more about the different editions in Google Workspace Cheat Sheet: Complete Guide to 2022.
What other features does Google Meet have?
Google recently a whole bunch of new features added to Google Meet to help people who work remotely, and to keep the video conferencing app fresh in the face of the competition. It also benefits from some of Google’s AI technologies, which were added to make meetings smoother and more accessible. Useful features include:
- A tile layout that allows Google Meet web users to see up to 16 participants on the screen at once
- The ability to live stream Meet events to YouTube
- The ability to present a Chrome tab instead of just a window or the entire screen, to deliver high-quality video with audio
- A low-light mode that adjusts a user’s video to make it more visible to other participants when lighting conditions are poor
- Noise reduction to filter out background noise
- Live captioning and real-time translation during meetings thanks to Google’s speech recognition technology
What’s the difference between Google Meet, Google Duo, and Hangouts?
For a while, Google Meet and Google Duo were separate apps. Google Duo was a video calling app mainly promoted for use with friends and family while Google Meet was a video conferencing app. Mid 2022, Google has announced that Google Duo and Google Meet will eventually come together, culminating in an app called Google Meet that will provide a robust suite of video communication and conferencing features. The current Google Duo app will eventually be rebranded as Google Meet. Google Hangouts, once a versatile voice, text, and video communication app, is no longer available.
What are Google Meet’s main competitors?
The main competitors of Google’s video conferencing app are Zoom and Microsoft Teams. They each offer roughly the same core functionality, but vary in terms of the features and experience they offer, who they are targeting and pricing models.
Zoom supports meetings, chat, phone, and more. The free version of the app can accommodate up to 100 participants, with a maximum of 40 minutes for meetings. The Pro version costs $14.99 per month and includes all the features of the free app, automated captions, 3 editable whiteboards with 25MB of cloud storage, and 5GB of cloud storage for recordings. On top of that are Business plans, Zoom Phone, Zoom Events and Zoom Rooms, each of which offers various expanded options for calling, conferencing and management.
Microsoft Teams is part of Microsoft’s 365 package. Teams is a core part of Office 365, along with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. This means Teams users can share and collaborate on Office documents in real time and automatically save work to the cloud. A free version of Microsoft Teams is available, for which users can sign up with their email address. The free edition of Teams offers video calls with up to 100 participants, with a meeting time of up to 60 minutes.
Microsoft Teams Essentials, for $4 per person per month, offers unlimited group meetings of up to 30 hours, with up to 300 participants per meeting and 10 GB of cloud storage per user. Microsoft 365 Business Basic plans start at $6 per user per month and offer team meeting recording with transcripts, as well as 1 TB of storage per user. Above that are other plans and offers that include webinar hosting and business phone system integrations.
How do I get the most out of Google Meet?
You can make video conferencing better for everyone, no matter what software you use, by accessing our extensive library of video conferencing and remote working resources:
Note: This article was originally written by Owen Hughes. It was updated in August 2022 by Andy Wolber.