Google opens up free access to Meet video conferencing for everyone
Since many of us can no longer have face-to-face chats with family and friends, we've turned to online video meetups. Though Zoom has attracted a good share of those wanting to get together online, the service has suffered recent criticism over security and privacy fears. Like Facebook before it, Google is capitalizing on this by opening up its video conferencing portal – called Meet – to everyone with a Google account for free.
Until now, the education- and enterprise-focused virtual meeting service has only been available as part of Google's G Suite, a collection of collaboration and productivity apps that includes Gmail, Docs, Drive, Calendar and Meet. But Google charges a monthly fee to use G Suite. Now the company is starting to roll out free access to Meet for anyone with a Google account – via mobile apps or a browser.
Google insists that privacy and security are central to the service, saying that Meet has been designed to "operate on a secure foundation, providing the protections needed to keep our users safe, their data secure, and their information private." Highlighted safety defaults include encryption of meetings in transit, giving the host the tools they need to decide who attends an online gathering, and using complex meeting codes to minimize the chance of intrusion by unwanted guests.
Meetings are being limited to an hour for the free version, though Google says that it's not going to enforce that time limit until after September 30. Also running until the end of September is a kind of try before you buy offer for new business users, who will be offered free access to some of G Suite's essential features at no cost.
Free access to the Google Meet service will be gradually rolled out to everyone over the next few weeks.