Google Meet is now available for everybody to use, including individual and personal account holders. That's compared to the previous arrangement, under which only Enterprise and G Suite users were able to access the video chat and meeting tool. The search giant announced the change this week via its official blog. That means that any user with a free Google account can now navigate to the "meet.google.com" URL to start or join a meeting.
The sudden expansion to allow every Google account — personal or business — to access Google Meet comes as the company bolsters its efforts in the video calling space. Specifically, it comes as Google consolidates its chat and messaging platforms under a single team. But it also comes as the search giant looks to compete with rapidly growing platforms like Zoom in the midst of ongoing stay-at-home orders and work-from-home policies.
Google notes that it has seen a growth rate for Meet of around 30-times in terms of daily usage. That's since it made the tool available for free for every G Suite and Enterprise user in March. Last month, it witnessed the addition of approximately 3-million new users daily.
Where does Google Meet show up?
Now, this announcement doesn't just mean that users have a new URL they can enter when they need to get together. It's true that as many as 250 users can participate and all that's needed is a valid — and free — Google account sign in. But users should also see the Meet tool showing up in Gmail for personal Google account holders.
That means that booting up Gmail on the web on desktop platforms will now present Meet for everybody. Google positioned that just above the Hangouts Chat portion of the interface on the left-hand sidebar. That's just below users' custom-set labels and inbox sorting features.
There are two options for users to choose from there, including "Start a meeting" and "Join a meeting."
As might be expected the former option opens up a new window with a unique, secure meeting that users can first join and then share the code for. Joining a meeting via the associated button crops up a pop-up window. That tells users to enter in a code to join a meeting.
If the feature doesn't show up in Gmail just yet, users may need to restart their browser. But users can also download the Google Meet application for use with their personal accounts on both Android and iOS. That means that anybody can now participate from anywhere on effectively any device they happen to have laying around.
Everything's intact here
As with Google Meet on other platforms, the recently launched 16-user tiled view option is going to be available here. But Google didn't stop there. Scheduling, screen sharing tools, and layouts that adapt to preferences are part of the package too. So are low-light mode features. Those automatically adjust, which can automatically the video to make users more visible to others.
Stacking atop of that, Google says it has unlocked AI-driven automatic real-time captioning for everybody. So nobody should be left out when it comes to this particular free video chat app.