As the pandemic rages on and working from home is still top of mind for millions and millions of individuals, it feels like two services have bubbled to the top of the video chat heap: Zoom and Google Meet. Zoom’s insane skyrocket to the most-used video conferencing platform came with a few early consequences and struggles, but they’ve righted the ship and still maintain a huge user base that keeps them #1 in the overall conversation.
Google Meet has been around for far longer, but had to make a few adjustments along the way since March to stay relevant in a time where Zoom has gone from the simple name of a company to a verb synonymous with the idea of video calls. In it’s first big move, Google Meet became available to all Google users instead of only for paying G Suite customers. Then they added a grid view like what you see in Zoom and integrated Meet right into Gmail. As of today, however, a few more Zoom-like features are on the way for users.
Bigger grid views
Announced today, Google is adding a tile grid view of up to 50 users and you can finally add yourself into this view. Via extensions, users have had this option prior, but Meet’s built-in grid has been missing this feature and it is a bit aggravating. When this new 50-person grid rolls out in the coming days, you’ll be able to simply click your thumbnail in the top-right corner of the Meet call and choose to put yourself in the grid with everyone else.
For controlling the grid view density, Google is adding a nice, clean menu for selecting the grid view and a compact, simple slider to determine just how many of those 50 callers you’d like to see on your screen at any given time. Like Google Meet has been all along, the interface looks straightforward and clean.
Second, Google is finally bringing blurred backgrounds to Meet. This will only be made available on Chrome for Windows and MacOS at first, but work on the Android app and the web app for Chromebooks is marked as ‘coming soon.’ For many, many people, this addition is a big deal. While not as fun and playful as Zoom’s background replacements, having a blurred background can turn any office or setting into a workable place to take a call. Messy rooms or crazy kiddos are no match for a bit of bokeh.
These two additions to Meet will arrive within the next 15 days and will go a long way towards minimizing distractions and creating calls that work well for larger groups. Zoom may be top of mind for a lot of people when we talk about video conferencing tools, but Google Meet has gone from a nice service for G Suite users to our absolute go-to video chat method. With their reach in education and enterprise environments, the sky is the limit for how broad Google Meet’s reach can be. If they keep bringing more improvements like these to match up with the solid performance of the service, I think we’ll be enjoying Google Meet for a very, very long time.