Google Meet goes free to take on Zoom and Microsoft Teams

Google Meet will be made free to all Google users starting in May in a bid to challenge rival platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

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Google Meet will be made available for free to all Google account users starting next month, the advertising and web search giant has announced.

Until Now, Google Meet has only been available to enterprise users of Google's G Suite platform. From early May, anyone with a Google Account will be able to sign into Google Meet at meet.google.com. For a limited time, users will also be able to use many of the same features available to premium G Suite users.

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"Our hope is that by making Meet and G Suite more readily available for all, it will be easier to securely stay connected and productive—now and in the future," said Javier Soltero, vice president and GM of G Suite.

Video meetings are limited to 60 minutes for the free version of Google Meet, but Google said it wouldn't enforce the limit until October.

Video-conferencing applications have enjoyed a surge in popularity since remote working became the norm.

This has led to a heated battle between video platform providers such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, each of which have been adding new features to lure users since the beginning of the pandemic.

Google Meet has also introduced new features, including an expanded tile view that allows up to 16 on-screen participants in a video chat and background noise filtering.

According to Google, Meet has seen peak daily usage grow 30 times since January, with the service now hosting three billion minutes of video meetings and adding roughly three million new users every day.

As of last week, Meet's daily meeting participants surpassed 100 million, Soltero said.

"With this growth comes great responsibility," he added. "Privacy and security are paramount, no matter if it's a doctor sharing confidential health information with a patient, a financial advisor hosting a client meeting, or people virtually connecting with each other for graduations, holidays and happy hours."

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While Zoom appears to have become the default for many remote teams, a host of issues relating to the service's security have put a damper on the company's success and led some to experts warning against its use.

The company has since addressed these in Zoom 5.0, which was released last week and features end-to-end encryption, the ability for hosts to vet meeting participants, as well as to report users who misuse the platform.

Soltero pointed out that Google Meet offered a number of security features "by default", including encryption, robust host controls and complex meeting IDs that made them resilient to brute-force hacking tactics.

"We designed Meet to operate on a secure foundation, providing the protections needed to keep our users safe, their data secure, and their information private," he added.

Google Meet will be rolled out to general availability over the coming weeks and will also be available via the Meet mobile apps for iOS and Android.

For organisations that aren't G Suite customers, Google has also announced G Suite Essentials, which provides access to Meet features like dial-in phone numbers, larger meetings, and meeting recording, as well as Google Drive integration.

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