Google is running hard to catch-up with Zoom in the new normal of video conferencing and has now confirmed a number of features that will be coming to Google Meet in the next few months.
One of the most requested is the ability to use a virtual background. This was something we recently heard might be happening, but Google has now confirmed that this feature is coming. There's no firm timeline on it - Google just says "in the coming months".
Virtual backgrounds have been hugely popular on platforms like Zoom and Teams and while there's a serious side - they can protect your professional privacy and keep your background hidden - many people are using them for fun, with backgrounds of their favourite teams, places they'd like to be on holiday, or just a background that looks like the office.
Zoom is best known for being able to see a large number of participants in a gallery view, something that's been really popular with those missing colleagues. Meet has been slowly changing this option and will be increasing it to 48 participants soon. That's a lot of people to look at, but works well if you happen to be looking at a huge display.
And to help manage these large meetings, you're also going to be able to raise a virtual hand in the meeting to get the host/speaker's attention.
The inclusion of breakout rooms is an interesting option. It's part of the paid-for offering in Zoom, allowing the host to divide attendees into working groups and send them off into rooms.
This makes it easy for multiple conversations to be taking place. It works well for online seminars or meetings where you need people to come up with different solutions and then present those back to the whole group. It's a powerful tool and a great addition to the platform.
Many of these additions work on both a social level and a business level. With that in mind, Google recently added Nest support for Google Meet, meaning you can use the Nest Hub to place these calls - and for those with dedicated Google Meet hardware, there's going to be support for voice control for meeting rooms too, so people don't have to constantly touch the communal hardware to get things working.
It's great to have these features confirmed by Google, but currently there's no word on exactly when you'll see them drop in Google Meets. Just keep your eyes peeled.