Google Meet just got new filters to make meetings less boring — how to use them

Google Meet filters
(Image credit: Google)

This week Google updated its Google Meet iOS and Android apps with new visual effects, filters, and masks that give you a few new ways to goof around on your next video call.

This is a big deal because the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing global lockdown has led to a surge in people using videoconferencing services to check in with colleagues, friends, and family members on a regular basis. Zoom was an early favorite, due in no small part to its built-in video filters and masks, and now Google is racing to keep up. 

For now, the new Google Meet effects are only available in the Google Meet apps for iOS and Android. They're also currently limited to calls made with personal Gmail accounts -- if you jump into a call using a Google Workspace account, you'll be limited to a selection of blurring effects and more professional virtual backgrounds.

But once you do join a Google Meet from your personal Gmail account via one of the mobile apps, you'll now see a bunch of new filters, animated effects and cute masks that can (via the magic of augmented reality) be overlaid on your face. To access them, just tap the sparkly icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen during a Google Meet call. 

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If these new effects look a little familiar, it's because they're very similar to the video and AR effects already available to folks who use the Google Duo video chat service. Unlike Google Meet, which launched in 2017 as a business-focused videoconferencing service with both mobile and browser apps, Google Duo debuted in 2016 as a mobile-only video call app tied to actual phone numbers. 

Both video calling services have seen significant upgrades over the past few years, especially during the COVID-19 lockdown, which caused Google Meet use to skyrocket and prompted Google to pivot Meet's focus from business to personal use. That's why Google integrated Meet directly into Gmail last summer, and around the same time 9to5Google reported that the titan of search was planning to eventually replace Duo with Meet. 

Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.