Google Meet, a free-to-use business-focused video calling app that has found widespread use during the lockdown, is set to enforce a 60-minute time limit by September 30.
Among the features that will no longer be available are meetings with 250 participants, live streaming in a single domain with up to 100,000 participants, and saving meeting recordings to its cloud storage Google Drive. These features will return to customers who avail of the G Suite Enterprise program, which costs $25 per month for each account.
Creating a Trusted Meeting Space Is Important
The 60-minute time limit was already announced in a post back in April. Through a blog post from G Suite Vice President and General Manager Javier Soltero, Google announced that they would be making Google Meet free for everyone.
It was followed by weeks of rolling out features to allow everyone with a Google account to set up meetings. Also, features previously limited to business and education users were made available to everyone.
By the time they released the statement, Google Meet has been hosting 3 billion minutes of video meetings and seeing an increase of almost 3 million users every day. It translates to a rise in the video conferencing app's peak daily usage of about 30 times.
"Meetings are limited to 60 minutes for the free product, though we won't enforce this time limit until after September 30," the blog post noted.
Aside from being a free and limitless alternative, until September 30, Google Meet stressed its commitment to security as one of the app's main features. Explaining that they "make products safe by default," developers behind the G Suite have included several safety measures. This consists of the host user's capability to allow or deny entry to a room, despite having the link, or muting and removing participants as needed. Also, participation in any Google Meet rooms requires a Google Account, preventing access for anonymous users.
Lastly, the blog post noted that all data used in the app is not used for advertising and is not sold to third parties, unlike most social media apps.
#ICYMI: available now in #GoogleMeet: you can see more students with a 49-person tile view. Additionally, custom and blurred backgrounds will help maintain your students' privacy and reduce distractions. https://t.co/NFFA2xSZk2 pic.twitter.com/Xfsm8kxHN3 — Google for Education (@GoogleForEdu) September 25, 2020
Stay Connected With Friends During Lockdown
Google Meet, and its predecessor Hangout, are among the top video conferencing apps after the sharp increase in Zoom's popularity. Zoom saw a rapid rise in its users: from 10 million daily users in December 2019 to more than 300 million in April 2020. However, the massive community that has also led to security and privacy concerns, most of which are in response to the increasingly common "Zoombombing". Uninvited people crash Zoom calls, with others broadcast illicit or shocking videos.
To stay connected with friends in the middle of social distancing, minus the time limit, there are other free video conferencing platforms available. For Apple users, FaceTime remains a popular choice, while Facebook users have their Messenger Rooms. Other users can also try free and open-source chat and video sharing platforms like Discord or Jitsi.