Google Meet video conferencing service is now free for consumers

Google today announced that it is making Google Meet free for everyone with a Google account until September 30. This means that anyone with a Google account can now host a Meet video meeting with up to 100 participants without any time limit for free. The company does note that after September 30, it might restrict the meeting length to 60 minutes.

Google Meet has so far been available to enterprise and education customers with paid G Suite accounts. However, given the increasing popularity of Zoom, Google has decided to make Meet free for everyone. Users will be required to sign in to their Google account before they can join a Meet video meeting for security reasons though. This will ensure that uninvited folks won't be able to Zoombomb a meeting.

Google says that it will be gradually making Meet available for free over the following weeks. This means that you might not be able to immediately start using Google Meet to host large virtual meetings. You can, however, sign up to get notified whenever Meet is available for free.

In its announcement, Google also reveals that Meet's usage has grown by 30x since January this year. It is now being used to host three billion minutes of video meetings and is adding nearly three million new users every day. With the increased usage, Google notes that it is important that all Meet calls remain safe and secure. For this, Google will put all members who were not added to a meeting via a calendar invite into a green room after which the host will be required to approve them before they can join the meeting. It also highlighted that all Meet video meetings are encrypted in transit and all recorded meetings are encrypted and stored in Google Drive. It notes that Meet data is not used for advertising purposes and Google does not sell them to third parties.

Google has been making extensive upgrades to Meet over the last few weeks due to the rise in its popularity as millions of people work from home and rely on video calling services to hold virtual meetings, webinars, and more. Within the last month, Google rebranded Hangouts Meet to Google Meet, introduced a 16-user Gallery view to it, added noise cancellation, integrated it into Gmail, and promised low-light video quality improvements.

The company also announced a new G Suite account tier -- G Suite Essentials. This will provide organizations that don't use G Suite to use Meet and Google Drive. G Suite Essentials will be available for free through September 30.

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