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Don't Zoom off elsewhere: Google plugs video-chat service Meet into Gmail as user eyes start wandering

G Suite boss promises gallery view on the way for cyber-meeting platform

Google is plugging its Meet service into Gmail as the Chocolate Factory rolls out the G Suite tanks in response to the threat posed by rival services.

The new functionality, available to all G Suite customers, is coming out over the next two weeks in Rapid Release domains and from 30 April for Scheduled Release domains.

It's a nifty tool that allows meetings to be kicked off or joined from within the Gmail inbox, making it simpler to switch between email and video-conferencing methods of communication as needed. It will also mean Google's customers stop sneaking a peek at alternatives, such as Zoom and Teams, or so the ad giant doubtless hopes.

Speaking to Reuters, Google veep Javier Soltero, the Acompli founder who quit Microsoft back in 2018, said the feature was being rolled out early as demand surged for video conferencing.

Eager to keep up with Microsoft and its other rivals in the statistics game, last week Google boasted "more than 2 million new users connecting on Google Meet every day" along with 3,800 years of secure meetings in a single day.

We've certainly experienced online meetings that seem to be take several millennia as one participant after another says, "No, you first."

The key word in Google's emissions is "secure", which could be seen as an indirect swipe at the problems faced by Zoom. A G Suite account is required to start a Meet meeting, and the video-conferencing capability has been made available for free to G Suite (and G Suite for Education) customers until 30 September 2020.

As well as simplifying the process to kick off a Meet session in Gmail, Soltero also stated the platform would soon feature a layout capable of displaying up to 16 call participants at once. Rival Zoom allows up to 49 participants per screen in Gallery View.

While highlighting Meet's security when compared to other options (*cough* Zoom *cough*), Soltero did acknowledge that Google's own freebie video-conferencing platform, Hangouts, had problems of its own and lacked the safeguards of Meet.

While web-based G Suite customers will soon get to kick off Meet sessions from the inbox, mobile users have a little longer to wait. ®

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