In a likely effort to stop the videoconferencing powerhouse that is Zoom, Google has expanded its Meet communications app to be available to anyone with a Gmail account (previously, it had only been open to those with for-pay G Suite or education accounts). You will be able to meet with up to 100 people and there is currently no time limit; after September 30th, meetings will be limited to 60 minutes.
You don’t have to do anything to get the app: it automatically appears in your Gmail app as a small “Meet” section in the left-hand column, right below your list of categories. As is Google’s habit, it is slowly rolling out the app to Gmail users over the next few weeks: a colleague with Gmail reported that he got the app last week, and I found it sitting in my Gmail account over the weekend, but at least one colleague reported this morning that she still hasn’t gotten it in her Gmail account. However, if you can’t wait, you can go to meet.google.com to try it out.
If you do see the “Meet” section in your desktop Gmail, you’ll find that your new videoconferencing app is actually very convenient and simple to use.
Google Meet has a very clean and easy-to-understand interface. While it doesn’t have the same number of features that apps like Zoom do (for example, you can’t record a session), there are several useful options.
There is also a way to monitor all the participants in your meeting and to chat with them. On the top right of your window, you’ll see a button with people and chat icons on it; click on that to open a side window with two tabs.
To end a meeting, either click on the red telephone icon at the bottom of the window or just remove the tab.
Gmail isn’t the only place you’ll find the new app — when you schedule a meeting using Google Calendar, you’ll now find a new button to “Add Google Meet video conferencing.” As you can imagine, the process for creating a video meeting is simple.
Click on the button, and you’ll get an opportunity to copy the web address of the meeting. You can also add guests from your Google Contacts list or type in their email addresses.
If you add guests, you can then email them invitations to the meeting. The emails will only include all the information about the meeting and allow them to send a reply (Yes / Maybe / No) or suggest an alternative time.
In addition, if you use Google’s Calendar app, you’ll now see an “Add video conferencing” selection when you create an event. Click on that, and all you’ll see is “Google Meet: Video conferencing details added” — the address of your meeting will be included in the final schedule entry.
Google is obviously trying to avoid some of the security problems that Zoom suffered back in April, when its relatively open format meant intruders could find their way into meetings. The safeguards that the company cites include: