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To take on Zoom, Google Meet goes free for everyone

Google is making its professional video conferencing tool, Meet, free for all to take on Zoom and the growing number of other rivals from companies like Facebook. Google Meet has so far been limited to G Suite enterprise customers but soon, anybody with a Gmail account will be able to use it to talk to up to 100 participants.

Until September 30, Google says users can chat on Meet for as long as they’d like. After that, however, calls will be capped at 60 minutes unless you upgrade. You will still have access to premium features such as screen-sharing, a Zoom-like grid layout that Google rolled out a few days ago, real-time translation, and more.

Free Google Meet calls won’t be available immediately to everyone, though. Google says it’s “gradually expanding its availability to more and more people over the following weeks.”

The mandatory Google account is vital here since that’s how the company is looking to stand out. On Zoom, by contrast, people can join meetings simply through a link with no registration whatsoever. While that has proved convenient for many, it has also led to privacy issues such as Zoombombing.

That’s not all. Google has built in a bunch of additional safety measures. People who aren’t explicitly invited by the host won’t be able to jump into a call directly with a link. They will, instead, land in a virtual waiting room and only when the host lets them in, will they enter the conference. Since Google Meet can natively function in the browser without any add-ons, Google claims it’s less vulnerable to security threats, too.

“Our approach to security is simple: Make products safe by default. We designed Meet to operate on a secure foundation, providing the protection needed to keep our users safe, their data secure, and their information private,” wrote Javier Soltero, Vice President & GM, G Suite in a blog post.

Yesterday, Google separately announced it has been adding about 3 million new users and hosting 3 billion minutes of video meetings every day. In addition to Google Meet, Google is ramping up its other video-calling platform, Duo, which can now host up to 12 people in a single call, and now works better in low-light scenarios.

A couple of days ago, Facebook threw its own hat in the ring with the launch of Messenger Rooms. On top of that, the social media giant doubled the number of participants for WhatsApp voice and video calls.

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Shubham Agarwal
Shubham Agarwal is a freelance technology journalist from Ahmedabad, India. His work has previously appeared in Firstpost…
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