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Google takes on Zoom with free ‘Meet’

The success of the Zoom online meeting service in recent months took everyone by surprise. While better known IT companies had their own video chat services, Zoom was the right product at the right time. Now we’re (belatedly) seeing the IT giants offering alternatives. Google, for example, has restyled its ‘Hangouts’ offering for business as Google Meet and is making it free for everyone, not just business ‘G Suite’ customers.

Google says that “starting in early May”, anyone can sign up for Meet and get “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 real-time captioning is of course far from perfect, but it could still be a big winner.

There are many security features which Google thinks will appeal to users, although I don’t know whether this enough to get users to switch from Zoom. Neither are end-to-end encrypted, although conversations will be private from the wider internet. Participating in a meeting also requires a Google account, while Zoom makes it possible to join a meeting without any account at all.

Organisations that aren’t already G Suite customers will now have access to G Suite Essentials, which offer features such as dial-in phone numbers, larger meetings, and meeting recordings. This is available for free until the autumn.

There are loads of articles online already comparing the two.