Google Meet: Zoom's best alternative is now free to all

Google Meet: Zoom video app's best alternative is now free to all Gmail users

Google, despite being one of the biggest technology companies in the world, was caught napping by small firms like Zoom in cashing in on the video conference service during the lockdown enforced around the world to curb coronavirus pandemic.

Now, finally, it has woken up to the challenge and has announced to offer its premium video conference product Google Meet for free to all users, provided they meet certain conditions.

"We’re making Google Meet, our premium video conferencing product, free for everyone, with availability rolling out over the coming weeks. We’ve invested years in making Meet a secure and reliable video conferencing solution that’s trusted by schools, governments, and enterprises around the world, and in recent months we’ve accelerated the release of top-requested features to make it even more helpful."Javier Soltero, vice president & GM, G Suite, said in a statement.

The free Google Meet service for individuals is expected to take off in early May. They will get all the same features currently available to business and education users, such as simple scheduling and screen sharing, real-time captions, and layouts that adapt to user's preference, including an expanded tiled view, comprehensive browser support, international dial-in access, adaptive layouts, live streaming, and meeting recordings. Users can also invite 250 participants per meeting, and also host in-domain live streaming.

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However, the user just needs to have a Gmail account, which can be created in a few minutes. And also, the free service will only be offered until September 30, 2020. After that, consumers have to subscribe to the G Suite services to continue to use the Meet.

Here's how to use Google Meet:
Users can access Meet directly on the web at meet.google.com. On Phone, you should download the Meet iOS or Android app. 

Once installed, you can schedule Meet calls using Google Calendar, and start or join calls directly from Gmail. For more tips on using Meet, visit Google's Learning Center (here). 

It can be noted that the free Google Meet service will start in a week or two. Interested people can sign up for Google Meet (here) and once it goes live, you will be notified about the service availability.

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Key security aspects of Google Meet:
Google promises a strong set of host controls such as the ability to admit or deny entry to a meeting, and mute or remove participants if needed. 

We do not allow anonymous users (i.e., without a Google Account) to join meetings created by individual accounts. 

Meet meeting codes are complex by default and therefore resilient to brute-force “guessing.”

Meet video meetings are encrypted in transit, and all recordings stored in Google Drive are encrypted in transit and at rest.

Users need not have to install any plugins to use Meet on the web. It works entirely in Chrome and other modern browsers, so it’s less vulnerable to security threats.

On mobile, the company is offering dedicated Google Meet apps in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. So, users need not have to rely third-party app stores or side-load Meet on their iPhone or an Android mobile

Meet users can enroll their account in Google’s Advanced Protection Program to thwart phishing and account hijacking.

Google Cloud undergoes regular rigorous security and privacy audits for all its services. Our global compliance certifications can help support regulatory requirements such as GDPR and HIPAA, as well as COPPA and FERPA for education. 

Google promises that the Meet data is not used for advertising, and don't sell users' data to any third parties.

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