Google Meet update lets you hide call participants with distracting backgrounds

Google Meet logo on an Android phone
(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google Meet has added a new way to disable the video feeds of anyone in a call with obnoxious filters or backgrounds.
  • However, the people whose video feeds you've hidden will not be notified that you have visually muted them.
  • On mobile, you can now turn off all video feeds, except for those belonging to participants who are doing a presentation.

Google Meet has added quite a growing selection of backgrounds and filters to hide your messy environment during a call, but not everyone is a fan of these virtual backdrops. They can sometimes be distracting to the call experience of a few users, so Google is adding a new feature that will let them block out these distractions.

The search giant announced in a blog post that it's rolling out the ability to turn off individual video feeds of call participants. This comes in handy during situations where you find a certain colleague's background filter quite unfit for a corporate virtual meeting. You'll be able to switch off their video feed to avoid these awkward moments, something that's not yet possible in many of the top video conference services, unless you're the meeting host.

If you're concerned about upsetting someone's feelings, Google promises not to notify the people whose video feeds you've hidden. Furthermore, the meeting layout will only change for you, while everyone else on the call will continue to see everyone's outer space filters or, if they can tolerate it, an underwater background.

Google Meet options for turning off the video feeds

(Image credit: Google)

The option to disable video feeds can be accessed on Google Meet’s mobile and desktop applications. To do this, open the list of call participants and choose the person you want to hide. Then, tap the three-dot menu next to their name and select "Don't watch." You can always reactivate their video feed by tapping "Start Watching."

There's also a new option to switch to audio-only mode if you want to save data. However, this feature is only available on mobile. Previously, Meet would only turn off video feeds during a meeting conference if your internet connection was deemed unstable.

Google has started pushing these new features to all Google Workspace customers, as well as legacy G Suite Basic and Business users, and they should go live for everyone in two weeks.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.