Owners of Google Assistant-enabled smart displays with cameras can now make Google Meet and Duo calls. As with other platforms for the apps, users can reportedly call up to 32 people all at once with Duo. Similarly, as many as 100 people can participate via Google Meet.
Another great feature as part of these updates is that Google Duo users can create a group on mobile. Those groups will be available on their smart display as well — if they're using the same account. But that doesn't mean that all 32 users will be visible at once. Instead, only eight participants will show at a time. That's the user and seven additional participants.
It's not immediately clear how the system will decide which participants to show. Users can also start a group with a tap or voice commands too.
Google Meet, of course, isn't necessarily intended for everyday users. Rather, meetings are joined via typing in a meeting code after using "Hey Google" or "Okay Google" to grab the Assistant's attention. Then, users will need to say "join a meeting."
Users can also join in via a calendar that's been synced with the smart display in question. That will be enabled for G Suite account holders and those who have Meet meetings on the calendars. Google effectively added in an option for admins providing beta access to Google Assistant to make that happen. The primary account on the display needs to have a G Suite account holder.
But the company is working to make account switching on displays easier for those who use the smart home hubs for both business and personal use. Starting a meeting in Google Meet, conversely, sends a notification to the associated phone on the account. That contains the requisite UI for adding more users to the meeting.
Of course, those with Google Meet invitations should be able to join in.
There's at least one exception for Duo and Meet on smart displays, for now
Now, the primary drawback to these new additions on Assistant- and camera-enhanced smart displays centers around auto-framing. Primarily associated with Nest Hub Max's auto-framing features, those help users stay centered in the camera while moving around to a certain extend.
In Google Duo, users of Nest Hub Max smart displays will still have access to auto-framing. So they'll be able to get some things done in the immediate area without moving too far out of frame. For Google Meet, that's just not going to happen. At least for now. The feature isn't supported at launch and won't be available on any other Assistant smart displays that have auto-framing either.
There's no word with regard to when the feature will be supported either.
These features, like others, will make the devices more usable
The latest features, like others Google has recently launched, should go a long way toward making the devices a better value. And while the feature should arguably have been there, to begin with, this is a case of better late than never.
Google's messaging team, and subsequently its messaging efforts and platforms, have been sporadic at best over the past several years. With Google Duo and Meet added, alongside the messaging endeavors being placed under individual leadership, the company can now direct its focus toward improving the services across all available platforms. So more good changes should be in store moving forward.
One such feature is the addition of a new speed dial-like feature referred to as "household contacts" for smart displays and speakers. Those have been rolled out today as well and allow users to set up pinned contacts for quick access and calling. After household contacts have been set up, anybody with access to the Assistant-powered IoT display or speaker can use their voice — or taps for displays — to call those contacts.