Google Meet Grid LayoutSource: Google

What you need to know

  • Google Meet is now free for everyone.
  • Anyone with a Google account will be able to create and join meetings over the coming weeks.
  • It's not entirely the same as the paid version, Google will be enforcing a 60-minute time limit from September 30.

Google this morning announced that it would be making Google Meet, its premier video-conferencing product, free for everyone over the coming weeks. It had previously offered the product as part of its paid G-Suite offerings, but now it'll let anyone with a Google account sign-up to the service now.

Google will eventually have limits on the free version of Meet, mostly related to how long a meeting can be run (60 mins, or 20 more than Zoom's limitations). For now, it's providing all of Meet's features for free. This will include the Zoom-like Grid layout it introduced a few weeks back, dedicated mobile apps, strong controls that prevent unwanted intrusions, and in-transit encryption.

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For people who want a bit more than just Meet, Google has also announced G Suite Essentials, a variant of its G Suite that includes advanced Meet features like dial-in phone numbers, meeting recording, and larger meetings alongside a subset of other G Suite features for collaboration. G Suite Essentials will be free through September 30, which is when Google will start enforcing the limits on the free version of Meet as well.

Google is clearly rising to the challenge posed by Zoom, which has seen its market share soar in recent months. Alongside Facebook, which has debuted its own Zoom and Meet rival, the company wants a piece of the video-conferencing pie. Could a free version of Meet shift the tides in Google's favor? It certainly will. The magnitude of the shift though will be something that'll only be visible long-term.

How to get started with Google Meet for teleconferencing