Google is making more moves into the video chatting space during the coronavirus pandemic, now providing its premium video conferencing service Google Meet free for consumers. Previously available only to organizations using G Suite, Meet is now open to everyone, in a move that puts Google in competition with rival video chat service Zoom.
While Google Hangouts and Duo were previously available for casual video chatting, Meet allows up to 100 participants on a call at once, and includes features such as scheduling, screen sharing and real-time captioning.
Putting Meet front and center is Google’s latest attempt to go head-to-head with Zoom, the ubiquitous videoconferencing app that has so far ruled the stay-at-home era.
Meet will have some privacy controls (that Zoom has lacked) including host controls (like the ability to admit or deny entry to a meeting, and mute or remove participants), complex meeting codes and encryption in transit.
Meet started rolling out its free version earlier this month. You'll be able to use the video chat service on the web at meet.google.com and on mobile apps for iOS or Android.
How to use Google Meet, free
To sign up for the free version of Google Meet, go to the Google Meet page. Enter your name, email, country and primary use for Google Meet (personal, business, education or government). Agree to Google's terms of service, and hit Submit.
Once you sign up, here's how to use the free version of Google Meet:
1. Go to meet.google.com (or, open the app on iOS or Android, or start a meeting from Google Calendar).
2. Click Start new meeting, or enter your meeting code.
3. Choose the Google account you want to use.
4. Click Join meeting. You'll have the ability to add others to your meeting, too.