Google Meet is getting an upgrade that will make the video conferencing service a little more like Zoom.
On Google Meet, you can now view up to 16 participants during a video session, a substantial increase from four. The new layout also arranges everyone in a 4-by-4 tile-like layout not so different from when you engage in large meetings on Zoom.
“The layout will adjust to show active speakers. If you’re in a meeting with more than 16 other people, there’s an option to open the list of participants and see who else is in the meeting,” Google said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The new layout is currently available via the web version of Google Meet. “More updates are coming for larger meetings, better presentation layouts, and support across more devices,” Google added.
The change will make the company’s product a bit more competitive against Zoom at a time when everyone is flocking to video conferencing software during the pandemic. In Zoom’s case, the product can let you simultaneously view up to 49 participants during a video meeting, arranging everyone’s face in a giant grid.
The 7 by 7 interface on Zoom.
The feature is one reason why Zoom has become popular, particularly among schools holding online classes. On Wednesday, the company reported reaching 300 million daily users.
Other video conferencing products are now trying to catch up. Microsoft Teams, for instance, is also currently limited to only showing four screens simultaneously. But the company is working to expand the limit to nine in a 3-by-3 interface.
Unfortunately, Google Meet is only available for paid customers who subscribe to G Suite. The enterprise-focused product is separate from the consumer Google Hangouts chat app. If you’re a school, you can get free access to Google Meet via the free G Suite Education suite, but a sign-up is required.
On Wednesday, the company also introduced some other upgrades to Google Meet, including a noise-cancellation feature to remove background sounds from meetings, and a new “low-light mode” that can brighten your presence during a dimly lit video session. These features are being rolled out gradually to all users.