Google made its video conferencing tool Google Meet free for all users. With this move, the tech giant seems to take on Zoom whose shares have dropped by almost 7 percent after the news of the free version of Meet was released.

Google Meet, formerly known as Google Hangouts, was initially only available as part of G Suite. The tool is now available free of charge via meet.google.com and Google Meet mobile apps. Free users can now set up meetings without a G Suite account in which up to a hundred people can participate. Users of the free version also have access to additional features such as screen sharing, real-time captions and a new tiled layout introduced last week.

Not all features of Google Meet are unlimited for free users. Meetings should not take longer than sixty minutes, but Google already stated that it would not enforce this time limit until the 30th of September. Google accounts are mandatory to access the free version of Google Meet, and viewers are limited to 100,000 people. 

G Suite Essentials

In addition, Google announced a new version of G Suite aimed at people who are not yet customers, called G Suite Essentials. This new service is suitable for teams that need access to Google Meet’s more advanced features. These include the ability to make calls within Meet, larger meetings and the ability to record these meeting. G Suite Essentials also features secure access to Google Drive and support for Docs, Sheets and Slides to work together remotely.

Use of Google Meet increases

The use of videoconferencing tools has increased astronomically in recent months. Ongoing measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus are forcing people to work from home. Google’s competitors Microsoft Teams and Zoom have seen the number of daily users skyrocket since the outbreak. Google Meet is no exception. Everyday use of the tool is now thirty times higher than in early January. Users spend 3 billion minutes in meetings every day. Daily, 3 million new users join the service. According to Google, Meet reached 100 million daily users last week.

Tip: Read our comparison of all the video conferencing tools