Google Meet has been free for everyone for close to a year now due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although that offer is set to expire at the end of June, anyone who uses the video chat app will still have a chance to check out Google’s upcoming refresh before they have to decide whether or not they want to pay for it.
On Wednesday, Google announced that Meet is getting a brand new design this May that should expedite its efforts to compete more readily with Zoom. Starting next month, the entire Google Meet experience is getting a refresh, with a slick new design that looks far more modern than what the platform currently offers. Looks clearly aren’t everything, but Google Meet certainly wasn’t the most attractive video conferencing app on the market.
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The improved design stands out, but the new features are what will keep you coming back once the free trial has expired. First off, when you view or share content on Meet after the update drops, your options to pin and unpin that content will improve. As Google explains, it will soon be possible to pin multiple tiles at once, so that you can focus on multiple items at once. You can also pin multiple speakers, in case more than one person is presenting. The names of the participants in your Meet call will always be visible as well, so you’ll never lose track of them.
Perhaps even more importantly, you won’t have to start at your own face during a Meet call anymore because it will be possible to resize, reposition, and even hide your video feed altogether to free up space.
In an effort to improve audio and video quality on the app, Google is also introducing Data Saver on Google Meet in May, which will limit the amount of data used on mobile networks to cut down costs, which the company says is especially important for users in regions where data costs are high, like Brazil and India.
The refresh will also give Google Meet on the web the ability to detect when you are underexposed enhance brightness to make it easier to see you. Meet is also getting a new feature called Autozoom that automatically zooms in on participants and positions them directly in the center of the screen.
Finally, three video backgrounds are coming to Google Meet next month: A classroom, a party, and a forest.
“When we introduced a free version of Google Meet to the world a year ago, none of us knew just how much we’d come to rely on virtual meetings and gatherings to keep us connected to friends, family, colleagues and classmates,” says Google. “We’re grateful for all the stories and feedback our users and customers have shared along the way, helping us make Google Meet more engaging for everyone. Looking ahead, we’re excited to continue improving the Meet experience to further help in all the ways people connect, collaborate and celebrate.”