Google Updates Meet to Match, Surpass Competitors

Google plans to roll out a series of Meet video conferencing updates to match and surpass the functionality of Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom throughout the year.

The search giant unveiled the improvements this week, targeting features aimed at maximizing employee productivity at home and in the office. Many companies have embraced hybrid working as an advantage to retain or attract workers in a tight labor market.

Google will be rolling out a real-time collaboration feature its competitors lack in the coming weeks. This feature allows employees to host meetings directly within the word processing, spreadsheet, and slideshow applications in Space, the company’s productivity and collaboration suite. Meeting participants can discuss a document via a side panel in the Documents, Sheets, or Slides tab.

“The ability to see, hear and connect with your people is key to building rapport,” Google Meet product manager Dave Citron said in an online press conference. “It shouldn’t get lost when working on tabs or locations. »

Teams, Zoom, and Webex don’t have a native way to work on documents together during video calls. By integrating Meet with Docs, Sheets and Slides, Google is showing the advantage of its business app bundle, said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at research firm Metrigy.

Several upcoming Meet features catch up to what the competition already offers. Features include:

  • A miniature video panel that floats above other apps. The feature allows employees to navigate between windows while keeping up to four meeting participants in view.
  • Emojis for non-verbal communication during meetings. Google plans to deliver the feature this month.
  • A companion mode to combat the hybrid deal with unevenness. Companion mode allows conference room employees to participate in meeting discussions, vote in polls, and view captions on their laptops. Google will allow people to use their laptop cameras to record the facial expressions and body language of remote colleagues in the coming months.
  • The ability to respond to specific comments in a thread in the Workspace chat room, called Spaces.

Google plans to leverage YouTube to help companies expand their audience for panel discussions, webinars or keynotes. A Meet-YouTube integration will allow users to access Meet content through the familiar YouTube user interface.

Later this year, Google will allow businesses to conduct Q&As and polls on up to 100,000 read-only attendees at a Meet event. The feature is available today only to active participants, which has a limit of 500.

Unlike Cisco and Zoom, Google doesn’t charge extra for its large group meeting feature. Microsoft includes it in Teams with a 365 subscription but can only accommodate a maximum of 20,000 participants.

Google has been making steady improvements to Workspace as it battles Microsoft in the productivity suite market. Workspace’s share has grown between 1% and 2% per year for several years, according to research firm Gartner. But Microsoft still represents 89% of the market.

“If you just watch [Workspace’s] growth sounds great,” said Gartner analyst Craig Roth. “Growing in a very large market is wonderful. »

Mike Gleason is a journalist covering unified communications and collaboration tools. Previously, he covered communities in the Massachusetts MetroWest region for the Milford Daily News, Walpole Times, Sharon Lawyer and Medfield Press. He has also worked for newspapers in central Massachusetts and southwestern Vermont and served as a local editor for Patch. He can be found on Twitter at @MGleason_TT.

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