Things to know about Google Meet
This first section is intended to help you familiarize yourself with the latest video chat software to hit the market, before moving on to the slightly more technical side of things. It's here where I answer some of the most commonly asked questions.
After this I’ll demonstrate how you can practice holding meetings yourself, using two different devices such as a desktop and smartphone. Right here and now!
What is Google Meet and how do I access it?
If you’ve heard of Zoom meetings then you’ll know what meet is all about. The thing that separates this neat little gem from the rest of the pack is the way it works seamlessly with Google’s other apps, such as Calendar and Chat, previously known as Hangouts.
Google Meet is a video conferencing application and is one of the core applications bundle which come with any Google account. If you haven’t yet got an account, the guide to creating a Google account will get you started.
In case you’re not familiar with these apps, gmail is one of the more famous ones. And of course everyone’s heard of Youtube, arguably the most famous of the entire fleet.
How much does Google Meet cost?
For personal accounts video meetings are absolutely free. However this plan does have some limitations, although the allowances are quite generous.
Google Workspace for business plans, all of which include the full range of apps, start at £4.60 per user per month for the basic plan.
What can I use Google Meet for?
The current covid crisis has created several innovative ways of holding virtual meetings and get-togethers. Group chats and video conferencing being the two most commonly used.
Businesses are often thought of as the only or main benefactors of being able to have group meetings. However: this is far from the case.
Stay connected: Families can still stay in touch, or even see more of each other. Regardless of travel restrictions, limitations on gatherings, or distance.
Virtual pubs: Drinking with friends doesn’t have to end because of lockdowns. So get the beers out, pull up a chair, and let’s have a Meet party.
Visiting the sick: Ill health shouldn’t mean that we have to spend our time in total isolation, or be constrained by hospital visiting times. Virtual visits are the ideal way of monitoring those who have succumbed.
What’s the difference between the paid and free versions of Meet?
Aside from the cost, there are what I believe to be three major differences between the free and paid plans.
- Time limit: Users of the free version have a limit of 24 hours for one to one meets and one hour for three or more people
- Number of participants: For the free and basic business versions there is maximum of 100 participants
- Recording ability: The free and basic business plans don’t have the inbuilt ability to record meetings
Work arounds for Google Meet limitations
Don’t let these limitations put you off. While the number of participants is usually more than enough, there are workarounds for the other two.
The limit is on time, not on the number of meetings. Several meetings can be arranged to continue one after the other, or participants could agree on a second meeting to begin a few minutes after the current event ends.
Any meeting participant using a desktop or laptop can record the get together with a third party program.
Although a couple of hours to learn the features is needed, Open Broadcast Studio (OBS) allows you to make high quality recordings of all, or specific areas of the screen. The videos can then be shared with individuals or on social media. And the best part: this software is free!
We can hold and record a Google meet session on all operating systems. Both OBS and Meet are cross platform, meaning they can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
How can I access Meet?
You can organize video meetings from your gmail home page and from the apps listing of any Chrome browser. Google Meets can also be scheduled using Google Calendar.
Do I need the Chrome browser to access Meets?
I’m not aware of any browser that can’t access Meets, but there will be one extra hurdle to jump through. I regularly use Firefox and Brave browsers to access my Google account and therefore any of the apps .
When signed into a Google account with the Chrome browser, all the core apps are accessible from the nine dot app icon in the top right. This icon is visible on every new tab we open.
However: with none Chrome browsers, the dropdown is only visible from the tab we use to sign into our account and then any of the core features we open.
Which devices can I create and access a video chat on?
We can carry out a video meeting on all modern devices providing we have an internet connection. Smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops are all suitable.
The obvious requirement is they must have video and audio functionality, which eliminates those devices from the pre smartphone era.