Google Meet

By: Nick Gambino

Google Meet, the company’s Skype and Zoom competitor, is now free for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic and global quarantine has forced many of us to seek out video call options for personal and business use. Zoom, particularly, has seen a significant uptick in users.

The Alphabet company’s premium videoconferencing service includes a lot more features than other similar free services, including Google’s own Hangout and Duo. This move to make Google Meet free seems to be an effort to knock Zoom off the throne. Zoom is currently leading the pack with 300 million daily users.

Anyone will be able to use Meet starting sometime in the next few weeks, as long as they have an email address. So, in effect, everyone will be able to use the videoconferencing software. You don’t even have to have a Gmail account to access it, but you will have to create a Google account, according to the blog post announcing the change.

In this telecommunicating boom, it’s no surprise that every major videoconferencing software, free and otherwise, has seen a surge in users. The same is true for Google Meet, even before they made the service free.

“Last week, we surpassed a significant milestone,” Sundar Pichai, Alphabet CEO, said in an earnings call on April 28. “We are now adding roughly 3 million new users each day and have seen a thirty-fold increase in usage since January. There are now over 100 million daily Meet meeting participants.”

Google Meet is touted as one of the most secure video chat software you’ll find. That’s a big reason why they charge for it. Security features include the ability to admit or deny users who try to join and non-admittance to anonymous users. These might seem like a given but they’re problems for other services like Zoom.

As always, “free” means “limited” as Google Meet calls will be limited to 60 minutes with up to 100 people in a single meeting. Apparently, this limit won’t go into effect until September, allowing people to hold longer meetings until we get through this pandemic. Zoom allows up to 100 people as well, but caps calls at 40 minutes unless you pay.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the face of business changes once this pandemic winds down with a lot of our interactions conducted through these online video chat services. A lot is uncertain at the moment, so we’ll just have to wait and see how it shakes out.