Google Meet

As big as Zoom has become in the last couple of months, security concerns about the app has stopped companies and organisations from fully embracing it. Despite the launch of Zoom 5.0 with updated security, what’s lost is lost. And to make good on this opportunity, Google is making Meet free for everyone, with the feature rolling out gradually starting next week.

Up until now, anyone could have participated in a meeting, but only someone with a paid G Suite account could start them. However, with this new change, anyone could make calls from Meet, with the only restriction being on the duration of the calls, i.e., 60 minutes. Apart from that, a maximum number of 100 participants has been set for a call.

“Starting in early May, anyone with an email address can sign up for Meet and enjoy many of the same features available to our business and education users, such as simple scheduling and screen sharing, real-time captions, and layouts that adapt to your preference, including an expanded tiled view,” the company said in a blog post by Javier Soltero, Vice President & GM of G Suite.

This move would put the company right up against Zoom, which has managed to grow its user base from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million now. However, Google is hoping that security concerns on the app can be exploited in Meet’s advantage, and that is how it has planned to market it. In the blog post, security was a main selling point from Google, which states: “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.”

The company laid out an elaborate plan to achieve this, parts of which include, providing a “a strong set of host controls such as the ability to admit or deny entry to a meeting, and mute or remove participants, if needed,”, meeting codes being more complex by default to stop “guessing’, encryption on the meetings and Meet data not being used for advertising purposes.

Moreover, the company said that Meet would not require additional plug-ins, which means that meetings could open up directly in the browser, which would go a long way towards ensuring security. To add on to that, users would also need a Google account to conduct meetings, which can be seen as a double edged sword in the sense that while it would ensure better security, it would also make it a little harder to get into meetings than Zoom. However, it is still better than “Meet bombing” becoming a thing.

The time limit of 60 minutes on meetings will not be enforced till 30th September, the company said.

It was just recently that Meet adopted a Zoom-esque tile based approach to its platform, and now taking the fight directly up against the app shows that Google is gearing up for domination.