Tech

Google Meet to now allow custom backgrounds on video calls

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Google announced that it will soon be introducing custom backgrounds for its Meet video conferencing platform.

As of now, this new feature will be available for Chrome for Mac, Windows, and Chrome OS. It will later be available for iOS and Android users.

Google said, “If a user uses Meet in Google’s Chrome browser he will be able to access the new feature in Chrome OS and on Windows, Macs, and desktops.”

Google added, “It may take a week or so for all the Google Meet users to access the new custom background option.”

Desktop Google Meet users will able to change their backgrounds now. The users will not need a browser extension to activate custom backgrounds; they should be able to add a background image from their own photo collection or from a library of images provided by Google like landscapes, abstract art, and offices.

The new custom background feature lets users create uniformity or diversity instead of personal backdrops of their living room, study, or even bedroom. It also ensures distraction-free meetings. It also seems to be a fun thing for personal chats where users will be allowed to use funny backgrounds from movies, shows, etc.

Google video conferencing competitors’ services Microsoft Teams and Zoom already allow custom images for meeting backgrounds. Google Meet users can make unlimited video conferencing at no cost through next year. Zoom users can make free video conferencing of up to 40 minutes per meeting.

These days all video conferencing platforms have been adding new features as more and more people depend on video calls working and schooling from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the recent months of the pandemic, Google Meet introduced for its users a blur effect for meeting backgrounds, added real-time captioning, low-light mode, hand-raising, and a tile view (the giant Brady Bunch screen) that can support up to 49 people at once.

Google Meet is one of the latest video conferencing platforms to introduce this feature, after Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Slowly, however, Google has been rolling out a variety of new features, given users’ dependency on video calls during the pandemic.

During Alphabet’s third-quarter earnings call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai stated that Meet supports around 235 million daily conferences, and more than 7.5 billion video calls a day. He even said that as long as people continue to use Meet, Google will keep introducing new tweaks and features. During the present work from home scenario, the ability to change one’s background during a meeting or conference should be useful for many.

In comparison, during April 2020, Zoom said it had 300 million daily meeting participants.

Google had integrated a free version of Google Meet into Gmail in May 2020, adding a sidebar link and making meetings of up to 100 people with no time limits available to anyone with a Google account.

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