Google Meet is getting some brand new features that should make of the best video conferencing apps a little more useful. Some of the features address the general usability of the service and some are a bit more fun.
Let’s start with the most frivolous, and clearly the most important. Video Background Replacements are coming to Google Meet. You won’t be able to pick any video — this is good news for teachers, who would no doubt not enjoy their students' latest memes playing on a loop — but three will be available at launch.
There’s a classroom, party and forest to pick from with the promise of more in the future.
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One key addition is the option to control how your presentation or video is displayed. It can be quite distracting looking at yourself when you’re speaking, so you can now opt to move your own preview window away. People sharing screens can also opt to see the other meeting participants, rather than their own presentation. That’s really handy, as it will give you visual clues about how things are going with your audience.
It wouldn’t be Google without the addition of some artificial intelligence. So a new Autozoom feature can keep the picture focused on your face and keep it central to the frame. That’s handy if there are a lot of meeting participants and you’re moving out of the center of a widescreen video. Now, the camera will track you and ensure you’re always in frame. This feature is coming to paid Google accounts first, so if you’re a corporate user you’re in luck. Less so for people using their own Gmail account.
Google Meet is also getting better control over low-light images. This feature, which will be free to everyone, will monitor your video and make adjustments to the appearance to ensure you’re well-lit. This is being added to the web client in the coming weeks.
Google’s also bringing a data saver feature to meet which will cut down on hefty usage if you’re on a capped or expensive data plan. Google says this feature is particularly relevant for certain countries where costs are higher for internet access.
Recent additions to Google Meet have included the option to change background images — one of Zoom’s most popular features — along with the very polite hand raising button, to attract attention without creating meeting carnage.