Google Meet to add 49-user tiled layout, background blur, and more for education users

Google is announcing a few new features for Meet that will roll out later this year, which are mainly geared towards G Suite education customers. The new features include added capabilities for admins and moderators, the ability to replace or blur backgrounds, larger tiled view to accommodate more participants in a video call, and more.

The new moderation features to let educators control meetings and classes will roll out to G Suite for Education and G Suite Enterprise for Education users. These include updates to the ‘knock’ feature when users ask to join a meeting, wherein those that are rejected will not be able to request to be added again. The interface is also getting updates to make it less intrusive. The service will also begin blocking anonymous users. However, education customers will be allowed to opt-in to let anonymous users in a meeting.

Other moderation features such as the ability to mute all participants, disable in-meeting chats, and restricting screen share to select users will also be making it to the service. The search giant adds that it will provide more information on these features in the coming months.

In terms of usability improvements, Google is bringing a few features that are currently present on competing services like Teams and Zoom such as a ‘raise hand’ feature during calls. It is also expanding the tiled layout participant limit in a video call to 49, up from the 16-user limit currently present.

The tool will also let users blur or replace video chat backgrounds, which will be a much-welcomed addition. It will also include admin controls to disable this feature. Additionally, Meet will integrate with Google's whiteboard app, Jamboard, to help “teachers and students share their ideas more naturally”.

In addition to the features above, premium G Suite Enterprise for Education customers will receive more capabilities such as attendance tracking, breakout rooms, Q&A session abilities, and polling.

All features announced today will specifically be rolled out to G Suite education customers over the coming months, but it will not be surprising to see additions like the increased tiled layout making it to more users. Overall, the added capabilities further make Meet a viable alternative to Zoom and Teams.

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