Google today announced a major update to Meet, its video meeting service, which brings several user interface changes for desktop users, as well as a great deal of new functionality, including multiplication so you can highlight multiple feeds in one place only, as in addition to new AI-driven video capabilities for lightweight adaptations, autozoom and a new Data Saving feature that limits data usage on slower mobile networks.
If you’re anything like me, you’re increasingly tired of video meetings (to the point where I often keep the camera afloat). But the reality is that we will have this kind of meeting for the foreseeable future, whether we like them or not.
Google notes that today’s release is supposed to make meetings “more immersive, inclusive and productive.” The new UI doesn’t look like a radical change, but it puts more of the controls and features at your fingertips instead of hiding them in a menu. It also aggregates them in the bottom row instead of the current system that spreads features between the main menu bar and an additional small menu at the top.
For presenters who don’t want to see themselves on screen, Meet now also lets you completely reduce or hide your own video feed – and if you really want a glimpse into your own eyes, you can also bin your feed to the rest of the grid. Google says it also plans to let you turn off your self-feed soon across all Meet calls.
Speaking of pinning, one feature that seems particularly useful is the ability to highlight multiple feeders. This new multiplication ability will make it easier to focus on the participants in a conversation that is most active, for example. This feature will be rolled out in the coming months.
And coming in a few months, some of those highlighted feeds may look a little more interesting (or annoying, depending on your point of view) because of one new feature that Google has designed – but not it is ready for presentation yet – is the video replacement background. For now, Google will only offer three views: a classroom, a party and a forest. The company says more will follow, but it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to bring your own videos to this feature anytime soon.
Other new features in this release include Meet’s ability to spruce up your video feed a bit automatically to make you more visible in a dark environment and enhance your video when you’re sitting in front of a bright background. This will be rolled out in the coming weeks. There’s also an autozoom, which uses AI to automatically zoom in and put you in the middle of your frame. That comes to paid Google Workpace subscribers in the coming months.