Video chat continues to play a very important role in our daily lives during the pandemic, and Google is reacting by allowing anyone with a free Google account to use Meet.
Last year, Google Hangouts got phased out to be replaced by two services: Google Chat for instant messaging and Google Meet for video chat. However, using Meet until now required a business or education account, but Google announced it was relaxing the rules today. Now all you need to use Meet is a free Google account.
As Reuters reports, Google director of product management, Smita Hashim, explained the reasoning behind this change, “As COVID has impacted everyone’s lives, we felt there was a reason to bring something built for businesses first to everyone … It’s a more secure, reliable, modern product.”
Google has confirmed that no Meet customer data will be used for advertising even though it’s a free to use service, and that the requirement of a Google account is for security reasons (your name and profile image will be visible during calls). Meet will also continue to offer automatic captioning, but unlike the business and education versions, the free version won’t allow meetings to be recorded. Other restrictions include a limit of one host and 100 participants, and from October, Meet calls can only last an hour.
There’s an ongoing battle right now to grab user share in the video chat space, with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet all vying for our attention. Even Facebook is trying to make a market for itself with Messenger Rooms. With this announcement by Google today, Meet certainly fares better in a straight comparison with the competition.