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Forget Zoom: Google Meet is getting some of its best features

Google Meet
(Image credit: Google)

Google Meet is adding a Zoom-like gallery layout and improved integration with Gmail as the number of video conferences and video calls surges during the coronavirus quarantine. 

Google vice president Javier Soltero told Reuters that the company is rolling out several new features for Google Meet ahead of schedule to address the surging demand for video conference software. The first of these features will allow users to start calls and join meetings right from Gmail. And later this month, Google Meet will add a gallery layout that displays up to 16 meeting participants in one screen.

The Gmail integration will add Meet options in the sidebar, much like chat. In addition to that and the new grid layout, Google is improving Meet video quality in dim lighting and filtering of background noise like keyboard clicks.

Gallery view is one of the distinctive features of Zoom, the video conferencing software and app that many people have been using while they're staying at home. The grid has been likened to the opening credits of The Brady Bunch. Zoom's gallery view can display up to 49 participants in one screen. That key feature has made Zoom ubiquitous on social media, with people posting images of their Zoom happy hours and celebrities performing group numbers for charity.

But Zoom privacy and security issues have brought the company under fire lately, which has opened the door for other companies to step up as Zoom alternatives for video conferencing.

Google Meet is available to businesses, governments and schools and is different from the consumer-focused video call tool Google Hangouts. 

With millions of people working from home, video conferencing has seen an explosion in usage. Google announced last week that Meet has 25 times as many users that it had for January, and is adding two million new users per day and has more than 100 million education users across 150 countries.

"With more and more people working and learning from home, we want to make it easier for you to connect and keep things moving forward," Google said in a statement.

"With Meet in Gmail, you can easily start or join a meeting in seconds. Our goal is to help you follow the flow of the day, seamlessly switching between email and video meetings — whichever form of communication you need." 

The new Gmail integration will begin rolling out for G Suite customers today on the web and to mobile at a later date. The other new features, like the gallery view, is expected later this month.