Video-conferencing software continues to act as the glue that binds organizations together in the remote-working landscape, with innumerable platform providers vying for our attention. This includes advertising-to-cloud-computing giant Google, which offers its Google Meet video-conferencing solution to anyone with a Google account.
Still, Google Meet isn’t short on competition, with Microsoft Teams and Zoom also in this space. Zoom in particular presents a significant challenge to Google Meet, having experienced explosive growth since February 2020 and becoming nearly synonymous with the concept of video meetings and remote working. Needless to say, this is an image that Google and other rival video-conferencing platforms are desperate to shake, evidenced by a steady stream of new features and enhancements.
SEE: How to use Google Meet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
We’ve already taken a look at how Google Meet compares with the likes of Zoom, Teams, Cisco WebEx and BlueJeans. If you’re looking to find out more on what Meet has to offer and whether it’s a viable video-conferencing solution for your business, this guide is here to tell you what you need to know.
What is Google Meet?
Google Meet is an enterprise video-conferencing service from Google that supports one-on-one video calls and group video meetings. Google Meet users can chat with other participants, share videos, presentations and slides from their desktop in real-time, as well as stream live events. Meet also offers breakout rooms, polls, Q&A and whiteboarding. Recording is also available on many paid plans.
Google Meet was formerly called Google Hangouts Meets, before Google split the app into two different services: Meet for video conferencing and Google Chat for text-based messaging. Google Meet is Google’s answer to video-conferencing and chat apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which are considered rival services.
Google Meet is available via web browser at meet.google.com and can also be accessed from within Gmail, Google Workspace and through a mobile app. Google Meet is compatible with Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, Linux, Android and iOS/iPadOS devices.
How do I use Google Meet?
As you’d expect from a Google product, the app is extremely straightforward and user-friendly, particularly if your organization is already using Google apps and services.
To use Google Meet, you first need to sign in with your Google Account. It can also be accessed from within Google’s Gmail browser app, and through dedicated mobile apps for Android and iOS devices. You can also schedule a Google Meet meeting through the Google Calendar application.
To start a video meeting from Meet, enter https://meet.google.com then click New Meeting, select a scheduled meeting or enter a code. Once you’ve joined a meeting, you can invite other people to join from the Add People section.
To start a meeting from Gmail, open Gmail in a web browser, select Meet and then select New Meeting, Join A Meeting or a scheduled meeting. Once you’re in the meeting, you add other people by sharing the meeting code or by adding someone by email address or phone call from the Add People section.
To schedule a video meeting from Google Calendar, create an event, add guests and click Add Google Meet Video Conferencing.
Is Google Meet free?
Google Meet is available for free to everyone with a Google Account. The free version of Google Meet offers group video meetings with up to 100 participants, with meetings capped at 60 minutes. Paid Google Workspace plans add features, as listed:
- Business Starter ($6 per user per month) extended the maximum meeting length to 24 hours, supports US or international dial-in phone numbers and adds whiteboarding.
- Business Standard ($12 per user per month) includes all the features in Starter, supports meetings of up to 150 participants, adds noise cancellation, polling and Q&A features, hand raising, breakout rooms (as shown in Figure A) and meeting recording capabilities.
- Business Plus ($18 per user per month) includes all the features in Business Standard, supports meetings of up to 500 participants and adds attendance tracking capabilities.
- Enterprise editions (pricing varies) offer in-domain live streaming.
SEE: All of TechRepublic’s cheat sheets and smart person’s guides
Separately, Google One Premium customers ($9.99 per month) and Google Workspace Individual ($9.99 per month) also both include access to Google Meet conferencing features that extend conferencing limits and some of the enhancements above. Explore the plan particulars for details.
Do I need Google Workspace to use Google Meet?
No. Anyone with a Google Account – that is, a Gmail address – can use Google Meet for free. However, only paying customers receive premium features.
Google Workspace is Google’s alternative to Microsoft 365, offering a library of collaboration and productivity tools including Docs, Sheets, Slides and Keep.Google Workspace is available in Individual, Basic, Business and Enterprise editions, with additional versions available for specific sectors such as government, healthcare, education and non-profit.
All versions of Workspace include access to Google Meet. You can read more information on the various editions in Google Workspace cheat sheet: Complete guide for 2022.
What other features does Google Meet have?
Google recently added a bevy of new features to Google Meet to help support people working remotely, as well as ensure the video conferencing app stays fresh in the face of competition. It also benefits from some of Google’s AI technologies, which have been added to help meetings run more smoothly and make it more accessible. Useful features include:
- A tiled layout that lets Google Meet web users see up to 16 participants on screen at once
- The ability to live stream Meet events to YouTube
- The option to present a Chrome tab instead of just presenting a window or entire screen, to provide high-quality video with audio
- A low-light mode that adjusts a user’s video to make them more visible to other participants when lighting conditions are poor
- Noise cancellation to help filter out background noise
- Live captioning and real-time translation during meetings powered by Google’s speech-recognition technology
What is the difference between Google Meet, Google Duo and Hangouts?
For a time, Google Meet and Google Duo were separate apps. Google Duo was a video calling app primarily promoted for use with friends and family, while Google Meet was a video-conferencing app. In mid-2022, Google announced that Google Duo and Google Meet will eventually converge, with the end result being an app named Google Meet that will offer a robust set of video communication and conferencing features. The current Google Duo app will eventually be renamed Google Meet. Google Hangouts, which once was a multi-faceted voice, text and video communication app, is no longer available.
What are Google Meet’s main competitors?
The main competitors to Google’s video conferencing app are Zoom and Microsoft Teams. They each offer somewhat of the same core functionality, but vary in terms of the features and experience they provide, who they’re aimed at and pricing models.
Zoom supports meetings, chat, phone and more. The Free version of the app can host up to 100 participants, with meetings capped at 40 minutes. The Pro version costs $14.99 a month and offers all the capabilities of the free app, automated captions, 3 editable whiteboards with 25MB of cloud storage, as well as 5GB of cloud storage for recordings. Above that are Business plans, Zoom Phone, Zoom Events and Zoom Rooms, each of which offer various expanded calling, conferencing and management capabilities.
Microsoft Teams is part of Microsoft’s 365 package. Teams is a core component of Office 365, along with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. This means that Teams users can share and collaborate on Office documents in real-time and save work automatically in the cloud. A free edition of Microsoft Teams is available to use, which users can sign up for using their email address. The Free edition of Teams offers video calls with up to 100 participants, with meeting time capped at 60-minutes.
Microsoft Teams Essentials, for $4 per person per month, offers unlimited group meetings for up to 30 hours, with up to 300 participants per meeting and 10 GB of cloud storage per user. Microsoft 365 Business Basic subscriptions start at $6 per user per month and offer team meeting recording with transcripts, as well as 1 TB of storage per user. Above that are other plans and offerings that include webinar hosting and enterprise phone system integrations.
How do I get the most out of Google Meet?
You can make video conferences better for everyone no matter what software you use by checking out our extensive library of video-conferencing and remote-working resource guides:
Note: This article was originally written by Owen Hughes. It has been updated in August 2022 by Andy Wolber.