Google's videoconferencing app becomes free to challenge Zoom - International

Thursday, 30 Apr, 2020

Google has provided free video conferencing for almost 12 years through its Hangouts service, but it features outdated security and technology, and its popularity has waned.

Alphabet was the first major USA internet services company to report first-quarter results, offering a preview of what other companies might report in coming days.

But Meet will cut free calls after an hour starting in October, compared with no time limit on Messenger and Skype and a 40-minute restriction on consumer Zoom accounts. This means you might not be able to create meetings at meet.google.com right away, but you can sign up to be notified when it's available.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said during the company's conference call that Search results got a boost from COVID-19 as people looked up information about the virus.

For those businesses outside of G Suite, Google is launching a new package - G Suite Essentials - which will give you access to advanced Meet functions like telephone dial-in and large scale meeting hosting, to support businesses.

Some six million businesses and organizations from hospitals and banks to manufacturing facilities and warehouses already using G Suite already have access to Meet video conferencing, according to Google. So far this month, Meet has hosted three billion minutes of video meetings and added roughly three million new users every day.

But Google is really keen to push the security of Google Meet, following widespread criticism of Zoom's platform.

The company notes that only people with a Google account can join calls in Google Meet, and meeting codes are a complex mix of numbers and letters that makes them tricky to guess (Zoom IDs and passwords are both strings of numbers).

Meet video meetings are encrypted in transit, and all recordings stored in Google Drive are encrypted in transit and at rest. Plus, since it is tightly integrated into Chrome and other modern browsers, there is no need to install a separate plugin.

Aside from G Suite, Meet is also included in G Suite for Education, and you might be using the app for at-home education. In early March Google temporarily expanded the range of features that Meet offers for free.

People are spending significantly more time on their Android apps, with downloads of apps from Google Play rising 30 percent from February to March.

Google Cloud undergoes regular rigorous security and privacy audits for all its services.

Your Meet data is not used for advertising, and we don't sell your data to third parties.

"Things don't sound quite as bad as some people had feared", said Edward Jones analyst David Heger.