Google Meet is a video conferencing platform developed by Google that rivals videotelephony services and applications such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Launched as an invite-only app in February 2017 and formally launched to the public in March 2017, its userbase has increased by more than 30 times in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic that compelled individuals and organizations to utilize digital communication tools and platforms for remote working.
Pros: Advantages of Google Meet
Free Version for Google Users and Flexible Paid Versions
Google Meet is free for all Google users. The free version supports up to 100 participants. Furthermore, the time limit for free users is 60 minutes, unlike Zoom, which caps its free version to a 40-minute meeting. Of course, because it is inherently integrated with other Google services, users with existing Google accounts can readily start using Google Meet.
The paid versions actually come as part of the apps and services within Google Workspace, formerly G Suite, similar to Microsoft Teams being part of the entire Office 365 services of Microsoft. With a starting price of USD 6.00 per month for each user for the Basic Plan, it is considerably cheaper than the base plan of Zoom that costs USD 149.90 per year for each license.
More expensive plans unlock more features. The Business Plan that costs USD 12.00 per user, per month includes all of the Basic Plan features with unlimited cloud storage space and meeting participants of up to 150. The Enterprise Plan costs USD 250.00 per user, per month and includes all of the features of all other paid plans, support for 250 meeting participants, and added security and administrative tools.
Productivity Tools and Integration with Other Google Services
A key edge of this platform over messaging apps such as Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, and Telegram, among others, is that it includes comprehensive tools for productivity and interactivity. For example, the screen-sharing feature allows a speaker to present a document, spreadsheet, presentation, or browser tab to participants. Other features include polling for real-time decision-making, file and image sharing, and text-based chat.
It also integrates with Google Contacts and Google Calendar for one-click calls or meeting participations. A paid version via a Google Workspace account unlocks more features, including real-time closed captioning using speech recognition, dial-in numbers from selected countries, noise cancellation, and encrypted calls.
Take note that paid versions unlock more tools. Because it is part of the Google Workspace, paid users also have access to cloud storage via Google Drive, office productivity tools such as Google Docs, note-sharing app, survey forms, and round-the-clock customer support via chat, email, and phone. The Enterprise plan allows the recording of meetings that are automatically stored in the accompanying Google Drive account.
Considerably Straightforward User Experience and User Interface
Another advantage of Google Meet is that it is relatively easy to use. Joining a meeting is as simple as clicking or tapping a link. The platform is also available via web app or a dedicated native app for macOS, Microsoft Windows, iOS and iPad OS, and Android operating systems. Clicking a link will launch either a web browser that redirects to the actual meeting or an app.
Creating a meeting is also as simple as launching the platform, generating the link, and sending the meeting link to participants via messaging apps, email, or more interestingly, by creating an event in Google Calendar and sending out the invites to email recipients in the contact list.
The overall look or feel of the platform is clean and minimal. The developers designed Google Meet similar to other Google products and services. Thus, the user journey streamlines with the overall user experience of Google Workspace, as well as free Google tools and apps.
Video and Audio Quality, Overall Performance, and Security
Note that the platform defaults to a 360p resolution for both incoming and outgoing video feed. However, the resolution is adjustable to 720p. It is interesting to note that users can also individually change the resolution for the send and receive feeds, thereby giving them better control over their data consumption.
It also handles conferences with large participants considerably well, albeit with some occasional lags and hiccups. Of course, overall quality and performance depend on factors to include Internet speed and hardware capabilities of the device that runs the platform. The overall performance remains robust with minimal performance issues, comparable to the performance of main competitors such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Security is guaranteed through the established global IT infrastructure of Google. Note that the company follows internal and legal standards for safeguarding data privacy, digital properties, and the interest of its userbase. It uses encryption to secure video calls, brute force attack avoidance strategies, and multi-factor account authentication and recovery.
Cons: Disadvantages of Google Meet
Relatively Limited Features When Compared to Others
The wealth of tools and apps within Google Workspace is undeniably a key benefit of using Google Meet. However, compared to other videotelephony services and applications such as Zoom, the list of features should have been improved and extended for better productivity, interactivity, and remote collaboration.
For instance, it lacks a native feature to annotate a shared screen. Annotations can help highlight certain parts of a presentation or foster interactivity among participants. A native breakout room for pocket meetings is also absent. Equipping the platform with additional features require using Google Chrome extensions from third-party developers.
When it comes to support for maximum numbers of participants, Zoom still has the edge. Remember that the Basic Plan supports only up to 100 participants while the Business Plan supports up to 150 and the Enterprise Plan supports up to 250. On the other hand, the Business Plan of Zoom supports up to 300 participants, and the top-tier plan has up to 1000 interactive meeting participant capacity.
Can Be Taxing on Hardware and System Resources
There is an optimized app for iOS and iPads, as well as for Android operating systems. However, there is no dedicated or native desktop app. The platform is only accessible via a web browser for desktop operating systems such as Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS.
Note that the quality of the user experience still depends on the hardware capabilities of a particular device. Hence, another disadvantage of Google Meet is that it consumes a considerable amount of hardware resources. Devices with outdated processors and random access memory would have a hard time running a video conference.
Small video calls with less than 5 participants would require a dual-core processor with 3GB of RAM. However, large conferences with more than 5 participants sharing their videos would need at least 4GB of RAM and mid-range processors. Use-case scenarios such as multitasking or having other apps running in the background, as well as sharing of the screen during a presentation, would require better mid-range to high-range processors such as Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7, AMD Ryzen 3 3300U, etc.
Summary and Takeaway: The Pros and Cons of Google Meet
A key advantage of Google Meet over Zoom, as well as other video conferencing platforms and messaging apps, centers on the fact that it is part of the entire Google Workspace suite of tools and apps. Paying for this service essentially means paying for other products and services. Furthermore, it readily integrates with these tools and apps from Google for a seamless and uniform overall user experience.
With regard to its main drawback, the platform still lacks certain features offered by its competitors. Extending its features can improve remote collaboration and virtual meeting productivity. Google Meet is still a reliable videotelephony solution overall. More specifically, the competitive pricing makes it ideal for small to medium-sized businesses.