Days after tech giant Google made it's Google Meet app free for everyone, it has surpassed the 50 million download mark on the Google Play Store.
On May 13, almost two weeks after announcing the free availability, Google Meet said the rollout is now completely free. As of today, the app allows anyone to video chat with up to 100 people for free. Some called this move Google’s effort to take on video-conferencing platform Zoom, while others will actually end up saying the same thing.
The coronavirus outbreak has acted as a catalyst for all video calling apps and Zoom became the go-to platform for workplaces, personal meet-ups with friends, or even host weddings. Case in point, the recent episode of John Krasinski’s web series Some Good News (SGN), saw him officiate a fan's wedding virtually along with the beloved sitcom The Office’s cast reunited for this virtual wedding, over a zoom call. Zoom hit the 100 million download mark in March this year.
How Zoom became popular?
Despite conventional video conferencing platforms like Skype, Teams, and Hangouts having existed for ages, users picked Zoom during this lockdown. Founded in 2013, the app’s unique selling point was that it offered 40 minutes conference calls with up to 100 attendees for free. The user interface is simple and intuitive. One doesn’t have to go through the hassle of logging in to join a meeting.
While these features helped Zoom’s user base surge but at the time attracted a lot of criticism. Zoom-bombing became a regular thing, where anyone uninvited could randomly generate an ID access code to join a call and start sharing offensive material, and later the app officially revealed that the video calls aren’t end-to-end encrypted like the company claims.
Enter Google Meet
Despite the security risks, most users continued to use Zoom purely because it’s free, but now Google wants to capitalise on this opportunity and play catch up. Formerly known as ‘Google Hangouts’ and debuted in 2013, Google Meet which was initially built for enterprise but is now available on iOS, Android, and its host website meet.google.com. All you need is a Gmail account, that’s it!
In a bid to attract more users, Google introduced new features in the video conferencing tool including a tile layout, a higher-quality video sharing option, a low-light mode, and noise cancellation. Google has also made the platform more accessible with its AI-powered automatic live captioning feature.
Teams and Webex: Other Contenders In The Race
Skype for Business is still a popular app for video-conferencing, however, Microsoft Teams is becoming the go-to platform for larger businesses and organisations. Much like Google, Team has also hit the 50 million download mark and currently has more than 75 million daily active users. Teams’ biggest differentiator is the chat tool which makes this a complete package
Meanwhile, Cisco’s Webex, which is touted as one of the ‘most secure’ platforms by cybersecurity experts, is pretty intuitive. The platform has hosted over 20 billion meeting minutes during the month of April as compared to 14 billion meeting minutes hosted in March.