In April this year, Google announced that it would be giving Google Meet a facelift. This involves a new user interface that will be slowly rolled out to Meet users over the course of a few months.
This is not surprising. The global pandemic has rendered online meetings a mainstay. Other companies like Zoom and Microsoft Teams also boast their own video conferencing platforms. It is thus timely that Google has decided to revamp its own, in order to meet higher consumer demand.
Google Meet’s new interface is aimed at creating an engaging, safe, and people-focused video calling platform.
Specifically, Google has zoomed in on the idea of collaboration equity. This refers to how everyone can take part in the meeting no matter their location, role, or experience levels.
Google said that its new Meet features are developed based on customer and user feedback. They were also built on other features which were launched in the past year. For example, automated live captions in an array of languages, engagement controls for teachers and students, and new mobile capabilities.
Aside from a new user interface, the new Google Meet will have enhanced reliability features powered by artificial intelligence (AI). It will also have tools that make meetings more fun and immersive.
All these are crucial for our next step in hybrid work. With better meetings, teams will be more productive and engaged.
So what are the new features in Google Meet? What makes them special?
Read on to find out.
More customizable options for your video feed.
It can sometimes be distracting to see your own face on the screen. But having others know that you are present and on your video feed is important. The new Google Meet will provide the option of minimizing or hiding your video feed. This makes it easier for you to focus on the conversation, instead of the clutter in your background.
Another cool new addition is the option to customize what your video feed looks like. With the new Meet user interface, you can choose to put your video feed as a tile in the grid of meeting participants or as a floating picture.
The latter can be resized and repositioned. The default setting will be a floating picture overlay for meetings with two people. For meetings with three people or more, your self-view will be placed in a participant grid. This makes for a more customized viewing and meeting experience.
Google Meet will also introduce the ability to pin multiple video feeds. This nifty feature will be rolled out in the coming months. It will let you have more control over how your meeting is held and best adapt to what you need at that moment.
Streamlining the presentation process.
Google Meet is also changing how content is pinned and unpinned. This is very crucial, as the size of different tiles on your meeting window can affect how people process information.
Meet’s new feature allows you to immediately unpin a presentation tile when you are presenting. Upon doing so, it will become the same size as other participant tiles. This lets you see other people who are in the meeting. With this, you can better gauge people’s reactions. It also brings the focus back to the participants and the topic at hand.
There are also other improvements for when you are presenting. When you present, you can see other participants and your presentation content at the same time. Other than unpinning your content, you can also mute or unmute audio that is playing, or remove your presentation from the meeting.
Improving bottom bar controls.
Among the most useful new additions are improvements to the bottom bar. All the meeting controls for Google Meet have been shifted to one place. For example, caption options, mic features, camera features, and so on.
They can all be found at the bottom bar of the meeting window. By moving them to one spot, it creates more vertical room for what is important — the meeting content and participants. When you hover over a control, its name will also be displayed.
The ‘Leave call’ button has also been shifted to the right. This puts it further from the camera and mic buttons, and prevents accidental hang-ups. Overall, the new location of bottom bar controls is more intuitive. It also makes for a smoother meeting experience.
Meeting details consolidated at bottom bar.
Other than improved controls, Google Meet’s new bottom bar also boasts a consolidation of details. Important information like meeting dial-in codes and attachments are now located at the bottom right of your meeting window.
Other meeting features like managing participants, chat streams, Q&A activities, breakout rooms, and polls are also managed via the bottom bar. Furthermore, when you are in full-screen view, a clock will be displayed at the bottom left so that you can keep track of time.
Also, the bottom bar will always be visible. Captions and participant tiles will appear on top of the bottom bar. This ensures that you will not have to guess whether you are on mute, and that you always have access to meeting controls.
Redesigned participant tiles for more immersive meetings.
Google has also zoomed in on other features that make meetings more engaging and focused on people. Meet’s participant tiles have been redesigned to improve interaction with others.
For instance, when a person is speaking, their video feed will be outlined in blue. The speaker indicator will also automatically appear on the top right corner of their feed. If someone is muted, the mute indicator will appear on their tile. These new features reduce visual distractions and lets you focus on the person who is talking.
Data saving controls for meetings on the go.
More people are now working across locations and on the move. Hybrid workplaces and taking calls while on public transport are no longer uncommon.
Thus, Google has introduced new innovations to adapt to changing needs. Google is launching Data Saver, which limits data usage on mobile networks. The new feature lets users save on data costs while still engaging in meetings wherever they need to. This is very important for countries where data costs are high.
Automatic light adjustments for clearer video feeds.
In 2020, low-light mode was launched for Google Meet but only for the app’s mobile version. This mode uses AI to automatically adjust the camera. It renders your video feed more visible if you are in dark or low light conditions.
In a similar vein, the new Google Meet now boasts automatic light adjustments.
If your feed is underexposed, Google Meet’s web version will immediately detect it and improve the video’s brightness.
If your video feed is too backlit, such as due to being seated in front of a window on a very sunny day, it can also hinder the clarity of your video.
The new light adjustment feature will use AI to automatically improve visibility. This makes meetings more engaging, so that you and other participants do not have to worry whether your feed looks unprofessional.
Auto-zoom to keep the focus on people.
This is another new Meet feature that is powered by AI. Auto-zoom will automatically zero in on your face and position you in front of the camera. If you move, auto-zoom will track your movement with AI. It will then readjust, so that you remain in the frame.
The intelligent auto-zoom feature uses AI to track your face and frame it such that people are the center of the meeting. Though it may seem like a simple concept, ensuring that people remain focused on what is most important. Auto-zoom will be rolled out to paid Google Workspace subscribers over the next few months.
Video background replacement options for more engaging meetings.
Want to make your meetings more fun and engaging? Google Meet is adding the nifty feature of video background replacement.
This allows you to maintain your privacy and remove any distractions, such as other household members moving in the background.
At the same time, it also adds an element of fun to your calls. To begin with, you will be able to choose from a party, forest, or classroom. But more moving backgrounds will be added soon!
The new Google Meet is slowly being rolled out.
According to the Google Meet support hub, about 25% of free users and 25% of rapid release Workspace domains now have access to the new Google Meet interface. These users also have the option to revert to the old user interface.
Why is the new Meet not launched for everyone yet?
Well, there are still a few bugs that Google is trying to fix.
These issues include missing video feed tiles or captions. Some users also report “mirroring effects'' when sharing their screens, according to Google Meet.
Additionally, those using the Chrome browser on a Windows device sometimes encounter flickering on presentation content.
There are also errors with the participant tiles. On occasion, participants who are not speaking are outlined in blue, which should not be the case.
But regardless of the bugs, Google is still gradually rolling out the new Meet interface to more users while fixing these minor issues.
Extensions with the new Google Meet
One little known hack for Google Meet is its ability to take on extensions. In fact, the new Google Meet supports extensions too. These extensions make your meetings more efficient, productive, and engaging. With add-ons, your meetings become more than just another boring video call.
Take your Google Meet to a whole new level with the Meetric extension.
Meetric allows you to take actionable meeting notes while taking part in a Google Meet call. Unlike other note-taking apps, Meetric was built with meetings in mind. The add-on is thus specially streamlined for online meetings, like those held on Google Meet.
It is also designed to appear at the right as a side panel. With this set-up, it does not obscure participants’ faces, ensuring that the focus remains on people.
This makes Meetric the perfect complement to Google Meet’s new interface, creating inclusive, collaborative meetings where you can truly focus on what matters.