Google announced that it's bringing Google Meet calling to the Android and iOS Gmail apps in the near future. At first glance, this might seem like a good idea, but there are plenty of reasons why it's really not.
I like Google Meet as a service and use it regularly. I don't want anyone to think that I'm trying to trash-talk it or anything. It's a reliable, encrypted video chatting platform that doesn't allow anonymous users and that's what I want from any sort of video conferencing software. It doesn't even need any sort of plugins to work as long as you're using a modern web browser.
But I don't want Google Meet in my Gmail, and I think Google shouldn't be pushing it this way.
There are two ways this bothers me. The first one I think we all can relate to is that it's not necessary and makes Gmail worse. Adding a tab that focuses on meeting simply complicates an app that is already a bit bloated. An email app should be simple; it should let you check your mail and let you send mail.
Also, the Google Meet app already exists for both Android and iOS, and it works. So does the Google Duo app. So do a handful of other video calling or conferencing apps from other companies, which leads me to the next problem.
Google is clearly doing this to promote its own service. That's fine on its own and a company is welcome to tell us about anything it thinks we might want to use. But when you stitch that service to another that's a clear market leader, it reeks of potential abuse.
Promoting your service is great. Adding it into an app that everyone already uses might get you in hot water though.
Google knows that everyone with an Android phone has the Gmail app installed and has a Google account. In fact, over half of all users in the U.S. have a Gmail address and use it regularly. That means more people use Gmail that all other services combined.
Google would like every one of those users to also be Google Meet users. That's fine, but wouldn't a new tab for video conferencing that could let you open the app of your choosing be better? It certainly would be better for companies like Zoom that are in direct competition with Google Meet but don't have a way to get their app on almost every phone. To make things worse, the whole thing isn't even opt-in and you have to disable it in your app settings if you aren't a Google Meet user.
When you are the market-share leader, every step is rightfully scrutinized.
Google needs to be careful here because when any company has such a large portion of the market it's easy to abuse that position. While I think adding more complexity to an app almost everyone uses is a bad idea to begin with, regulators might see a more sinister motive.