Overnight video calling hegemon Zoom has a new (old) contender. Google, till now mostly known for its Google Hangouts video calling service, has rebranded it as Google Meet and “extended” its advanced features to everyone.
Yes – simply sign up for a free Gmail account and get started at meet.google.com. Existing users of the free Gmail email service will also be able to access Google Meet directly within the interface.
Tiled view: Zoom VS Google Meet
Where Zoom held its own was in its tiled view. Despite Hangouts, Skype and Microsoft Teams being long-time industry favourites in the video calling space, the ability to see eye-to-eye with all your participants on Zoom was simply quite revolutionary.
This time, Google Meet allows you to view up to 16 participants at once. That’s much more than the paltry 4 on Google Hangouts, but still much fewer than the maximum of 49 in Zoom’s gallery view.
Participants: Zoom VS Google Meet
The existing limit on Google Hangouts had been capped at 25, but Google Meet offers truly advanced features like a 250 participant capacity complete with real-time captions. For individuals, this drops down to a still-reasonable 100 participant cap.
Zoom, on the other hand, maxes out at 100 participants by default, but requires a USD 19.99/mth subscription for up to 300, 500 or 1,000 participants depending on your choice of Business or Enterprise tiers.
Time limits: Zoom VS Google Meet
Probably the main drawback for free users of Zoom is the 40-minute cap on group video calls. You’d be glad to know the Google Meet will be allowing everyone to access its high-quality video calling tool for free – and without any restrictions.
That is, until 30th September 2020. Thereafter, free Google Meet accounts will have a time limit of 60 minutes on all calls – both group and 1-on-1 meetings.
Google Meet’s 60-minute cap could be a lot more conducive than the odd 40-minute Zoom cap, especially for teachers and business people who might plan their days around hour-long slots. However, after September, 1-on-1 meetings will be much more frustrating. For these users, the still-existing Hangouts for consumers might allay some frustrations.
Verdict: Google Meet (for now)
Security: Zoom VS Google Meet
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom has been subject to an unrelenting onslaught of bad press regarding its security protocols. From flashers in virtual classrooms, “Zoom bombing” and other breaches of security, many organisations had actually been moving away from the platform.
Google Meet knows its competition, and addresses all these concerns right off the bat. Its in-browser interface makes security threats less likely, while complex meeting room codes make brute-force exploits less likely. They’ve also promised not to use your Meet data for advertising, so that’s a start.
While Zoom has since made multifarious improvements to its service, it still has a ways to go before convincing the tech world it has a handle on its security issues.
Verdict: Google Meet
Screen-sharing and other advanced features: Zoom VS Google Meet
We’ll just say it quickly to get it out of the way: Zoom is far more capable when it comes to a full suite of video call features, especially if you’re teaching or otherwise require visual aids.
The revamped Google Meet does come with screen sharing and other accessibility features like real-time captions. Zoom requires a little extra effort to add closed captions to a video meeting, but makes up for it with an in-app whiteboard, annotations while screen sharing, wired and AirPlay mirroring for your iPhone, iPad and other devices.
It doesn’t end there. Participants can raise their hands, and clap to virtually interact with the video conference without disrupting it. Hosts can also split their participants into breakout groups.
It’s not all bleak for Google Meet, however. AI-powered features like a low-light mode and noise cancellation to filter out the banging on your keyboard can help improve video quality, while unique integration with its services by presenting a Chrome tab can help you share high-quality video and audio in meetings.
The lowdown: how do Zoom and Google Meet compare?
While both services are far from perfect, the main pain points are the imposed time limits during video calls. While these are reasonable restrictions for free accounts, they still detract from this essential service during this period – often the only way families and friends can still meet up.
To this end, free access to Google Meet’s advanced services till September 2020 does leave Zoom and its overly-restrictive 40-minute cap in the dust. Otherwise, Zoom’s full suite of handy features makes video calling on the platform feel as close to real-life as virtually possible. Hand-raising, whiteboards & annotations, break-out rooms and a generous tiled view are all great features to have whether you’re in education or on company business.