Google has released its online meeting tool, Meet, for free to everyone with a Google account. But can it replace Zoom video conferencing? Read on.
You may have already heard about Google releasing its own online meeting tool, simply called Meet. It’s free for anyone with a Google account, and you just can’t help but think that it’s an apology for the limitations of Hangouts.
However, while it’s light years ahead of Hangouts in terms of ease of use and user interface, when it comes to actual features, Google Meet is still pretty basic.
Which begs the question we’ll answer today: Is it a viable alternative to Zoom?
Getting To Know the Google Meet App
Now, as is often the case with Google tools, there are a couple of ways you can get into Meet.
As Google started rolling out access to Meet a few months ago, some Gmail users found a Start a Meet Meeting option in their email sidebars.
This wasn’t the case for me, so to make the video tutorial, I had to manually visit the official Google Meet site. There, anyone with a Gmail account can start a premium video meeting, now free of charge.
Starting a Google Meet…Er, Meeting
Starting a meeting generates a rather complex, password-like code that can allow anyone possessing it to join the video conference. This is Google’s way of preventing Meet-bombing (basically the equivalent of Zoom-bombing, which is an admittedly annoying practice).
You can send it out by email and invite people to join your meeting, or you could invite people from your Gmail address book with just a few clicks.
As you launch the server, Meet will check out the resources on your computer. Now, I had a few issues with this, but I’ll get into that later.
When you visit your settings, you will see three tabs: Audio, Video, and General. This is where you’ll want to set up which microphone you want to use, which speakers you want to listen to, and which camera will be capturing your video. These options are quite useful if you have a ton of options plugged into your laptop.
You can even change the resolution here. If you have bandwidth issues, you might want to leave it at standard resolution. Otherwise, feel free to go high-resolution.
The Google Meet Interface
This is what a video conference on Google Meet looks like:
As you can see, we’ve got a fairly stripped-down management console here. There aren’t a lot of things that you can click, and it obviously has nowhere near as many tools as Zoom does. Still, what it does have is decent.
Here at the top of the screen, you’ll see the people who’ve joined the meeting. There’s a basic chat window that will allow you to talk to them, and you can even see your own feed in a thumbnail view at the top.
At the bottom of the screen is where most of the activity will take place. There are options for changing the layout or view—recent additions that are very handy if you miss Zoom’s popular Gallery view.
Overall, it’s fairly basic, but it gives you the main control of viewing everyone or spotlighting just one person while everyone else is watching, webinar-style.
You also have the ability to go full screen on your computer, so it dominates the entire screen.
From here, you can also go back to your audio and video settings.
Oh, remember those issues I mentioned earlier? Shockingly, my audio and video settings were reset! This can be a pretty annoying predicament, so you’ll want to check that out and make sure that all settings are correct before your actual broadcast.
Just like Zoom, Meet comes with screen sharing options, whether it’s for one of your screens, your slide show presentation, or a tab within your browser. It’s yet another simple feature that covers the bare minimum of what you need Meet to do.
How Our Google Meet Trial Turned Out
So, my very small team and I tried to conduct a meeting using Google Meet.
Sadly, we discovered a problem after we recorded the demo. The audio from my team members didn’t get captured in the video file as I was recording. Also, I recorded the call separately because the default version of Google Meet has no recording option; however, I learned that the feature is apparently exclusive to G Suite users.
I know I’ve been talking about how plain Google Meet is, but it has one feature that really impressed me: The closed captioning option. As you’ll see in the video, there’s a slight delay in the way the captions would come out after April, Liz, or I would speak. However, I have to admit that the quality and speed of the feature was truly remarkable, especially considering how everyone on that call had a neutral accent.
(And yes, in case you were wondering—it does filter out swear words.)
Unfortunately, this raises a bit of a red flag, and I’m sure it’s not just me. If you think about it, Google is essentially capturing our conversations as text now, which it can then crawl and search later on. Basically, this is just now another data type that they will, in some way, have the ability to use in profiling each of us.
Scheduling a Google Meet Call Using Google Calendar
As Google Meet is a business meeting tool, being able to schedule is very important. Fortunately, you can do this even if you don’t see the Meet app in your mail.
Simply go to Google Calendar, create a brand new appointment, and select Add Google Meet video conferencing.
The meeting will appear as a line item on the calendar, and every participant will have access to it.
Cutting to the chase, though, Google Meet is not as good as Zoom. But you can certainly use Google Meet and be as productive as if you were using Zoom, if you only need the basics.
Both are free, relatively easy to use, and integrate well in the various digital ecosystems. Furthermore, Zoom requires you to download an app, while Meet is browser-based.
Support is (unsurprisingly) nonexistent for both Google Meet and the free version of Zoom. However, paid users on both platforms can expect some level of support, as long as they keep their expectations low. As for privacy and security, only time can really tell if one’s better than the other.
Overall, Zoom has the higher audio and video quality, but Google Meet isn’t too shabby, either. Oh, and if you want to watch the demo for yourself, check it out here.
Video Conferencing App Showdown: Google Meet vs Zoom
- Google has responded to the overwhelming popularity of Zoom and the nearly universal unpopularity of Google Hangouts in the online meeting space by releasing their business class product, their Google Meet product which just used to be for paid accounts. They've released that now to the general public. So we have three questions, do we not? First of all, how does Google Meet work? Secondly, is it any good? And third, how does it stack up to Zoom? What say we answer those three questions for you today on DottoTech. Steve Dotto here. How the heck you doing this fine today? And today, as promised, we're gonna take a look at Google Meet. Google's business class, business conference service that, until recently, was just available to the paid subscribers of the g-suite product, but now has been rolled out to the rest of us normal folk. Now Google is of course releasing this indirect response to the popularity of Zoom as a video conferencing tool. So we've got a lot of questions. First of all, how well does it work? Is it a good product? Because frankly, Google Hangouts, the free service that we used to use in place of Meet for most of us normal folk, it sucked. It was a terrible service. So how good is Google Meet? How does it work? How good is it? Is it worth using? Is it a viable alternative to Zoom? Those are the questions that we will have a look at today. So let us begin. Now, as is often the case with Google, there's a couple of different ways that you can get into using a tool and we all aren't equal citizens as far as that's concerned. As Google rolls out access to Google Meet, some of us will find a Start A Meet meeting in our email bar on the side of our Gmail software. Hasn't happened to me yet, so I have to do it the old school way. I have to go to meet.google.com but there, any of us with a Gmail account, can start a premium video meeting now free for everyone. Amen, let's dive into it and have a look. So I suppose the best thing to do is just start a meeting. You can also enter a meeting code here. If somebody has sent you an invitation, there will be a very complex code, almost like a password, that will allow you to join the meeting. And they've started right out of the gate with these complex meeting IDs to prevent, I guess they would call it Meet bombing as opposed to Zoom bombing. But when we go to Start A Meeting, it will then launch the service for us and it will check out the resources on your computer which I have actually found to be a little bit problematic as I have tested our this service. When you are in this window here, you can get everything set up for your meeting. You can start the meeting right now, you can start a presentation here. But for the most part, we should probably check and see what assets we are using to present our video and audio. Because I have had some issues with this. So we go into Settings and in the Settings you will see your audio settings, your video settings, and your general settings. You wanna set up which microphone you wanna use, and I have several to choose from on my computer. Which speakers you want to listen to, and again, I have several on my computer. And you can test them out here and make sure that everything is working properly. Similarly, you wanna check to make sure that you've chosen the correct camera if you have multiple cameras set up to your system. And if you wanna change the resolution, you can change the resolution. I would probably leave it at standard definition for the most part now because of bandwidth issues. But that's gonna be your choice. If you've got phenomenal bandwidth where you are, you might try high definition. Let's jump in and start a meeting just on our own before we invite others to join us. Now when we launch a meeting, we are given this Copy joining info screen which is a invite, an hdml link, a web link that people can click on, you can set it up by email, so you can invite people to join your meeting. Do you remember that code that I said to answer the meeting code? That's this little cryptic code here at the very end of the url. That's what people can type in to join the meeting. You could also invite people from your Gmail address book by clicking Add people here. So there's a couple of different ways to add people to your meeting. And before we're done today, I will also show you how to use Google Calender to schedule a meeting in the future. What I'm showing you right now is how to start an AdHawk meeting, where you're just gonna send out an email or send out a text message to people and inviting them in right away and having them join really quickly. So that's how you invite people into your meeting. And here we have our video screen, and as you can see we've got a fairly stripped down management console. There's not a lot of places that you can click. There's nowhere near as many tools as we have within Zoom. And to be fair, Meet has less capacity, less capability than does Zoom. Here in the top, we see the people who are in our meeting. There's a basic chat window that will allow us to go to chat. And we could also see our own feed in a thumbnail view up at the top. Down of the bottom, this is where most of the activity is gonna take place. If we go into our more options, we can change the layout, which I will show you in a moment. This is useful. They've just recently added this feature in response to the very popular Gallery View which is within Zoom. You know, that Brady Brunch view where you have multiple windows of people always open in the same time. But you can change your view, you can change your layout by clicking here, which will allow a variety of different views. Now depending on how many people you have in your meeting, you might have one style of view which you favor. This is pretty convenient, again, fairly basic but it does give you the main controls of having a person automatically pop up when they're speaking or being able to view everybody in this tiled view or a spotlight view, if you just want one person highlighted while everybody else is watching, more like a webinar. So you've got those options for the views. We also have in here the ability to go full screen on your own computer, so it dominates the entire screen. And they have other additional settings that you can go into which bring you back into your Audio and Video Settings. And this is actually something that's important, I think. Because an interesting thing happened to me and it's done it again here. Even when I set my speakers to be the speakers that I normally use for all video conferencing, which is my display speakers here that are built into my display audio, it's defaulted back to the sound card which is within my mixer. I don't know why it did this. It did this several times when I was in the test meeting, which I will be showing you in a few moments, with my team. So if you don't hear the person that you expect to hear or they can't hear you, rather than kind of make hand signals and panic, go down into here. Go down into the settings and check that the proper resource has been allocated for the task. You have the proper microphone chosen, you have the proper speakers chosen, and you have the proper video camera chosen. Make sure that's all correct. I guarantee you, you are going to have issues with this at some point in your Meet career. So that's there. Now the other features that we see here along the bottom are the ability to turn on captions, which I will show you in a minute and is pretty amazing but also kind of scary. And we also have the ability to present now, which is the screen sharing options. This is where we can share our entire computer screen or one of our windows or a tab within our browser. Very basic screen sharing included within Google Meet, nothing too fancy, but it does cover the bare minimum. Kind of the minimum viable product of what you need for a tool like this. So I think that's pretty much all the options that we have. You can hang up on your call, you can turn on or off or mute your microphone or camera at this point. And that's really how it works. That's pretty much Google Meet. So let's dive in and take a look at the first meetings that we did using Google Meet with my team, as we walk through some of the features in an actual video conference. Sadly, we discovered a slight issue after we recorded this demo and that is the fact that the audio from my team doesn't get captured in the video file as I'm recording the screen cast for us to demonstrate. And there is no recording function built into Meet. So this is gonna have to be kind of a show and tell. So we started out by looking at the different view options within Google Meet and figuring out which layout I like best for conducting the meeting with my small team. Then I decided to test out the closed captioning. You can turn them on in the bottom and you will see the closed captioning start to flow from the bottom as we are speaking. Now you can't hear April and Liz as they're speaking but you can see the closed caption from them. When I speak, I will bring up the volume again and you'll be able to hear what I say and you'll be able to see the delay before the closed captioning comes in. But I have to tell you, I was very impressed with the quality and the speed of the closed captioning. Bearing in mind that I have a very neutral accent. All of us on this call had a fairy neutral accent.
- [Steve] I bet there will be some really funny audio auto corrections as if you were reading it, it could end up being incredibly rude. Okay, now I'm recording. Yes, we did that, we went there. We tried a variety of different swear words and I know that many of you, as soon you test this out, you're gonna see exactly what it is that they blank out as far as profanities and not. But here is the thing that caught my attention as we were testing this out is I wonder about how much trust we're gonna have with the fact that Google is now capturing our texts. Our conversations as text which then they can later search on. If we look at the heart of what Google is, they're all about search. And this is just now another data type which they will, in some way, have the ability to be able to crawl through and determine our preferences, determine what we like, to basically farm information from us as we go along. But having said that, the technical capabilities of being able to add closed captioning on the fly to a meeting, very, very impressive. I went on to test out screen sharing which is pretty much identical to what you would find in any other application. And there's not really much more to show as far the features within Google Meet. Now as it is a business meeting tool, being able to schedule a meeting is a really important part of using any of these tools. And as I promised you at the beginning of today's video, I will show you how you schedule a meeting even if you don't see the meeting app in your Gmail at this point. Meetings can be created within Google Calender. I'm gonna just open and create a new calender invite here, or a new calender item and appointment. And when I create a brand new appointment in Google Calender, if I look over here on the side, I have the ability to add Google Meet video conferencing. So I'm gonna add a guest here, I'm just gonna add Liz to this meeting and invite her into this meeting tomorrow and now when I click on here, it generates a code that will allow up to 100 participants to join the meeting. And when this invite is sent out to anybody on this distribution list, they will be invited into the meeting and we will see the meeting as a line item in the calender invite as well. So everybody will get the login information automatically. This is actually pretty slick, I would say this is as slick as it gets as far as adding conferencing into Google Calender. That is really where we have to stop the comparison between Meet and Zoom because we have looked at all of the features that are built into Meet and we can now compare them to Zoom. You have to recognize that Zoom has lots of features that we haven't compared to Meet because Zoom is a more capable tool. So I'm going to now cut to the chase. I'm gonna give you my final summery. Is Google Meet the equal of Zoom? No, it's not as good an application. But can you use Google Meet and be just as productive as using Zoom? Yes, I think you can. If you have basic needs as far as meeting requirements goes, Google Meet can do and host a great meeting for you. Both of the products are free and offer good free service. Both of the products are relatively easy to use. If you live in the Google ecosystem, both the products integrate well. And if you live in the Microsoft ecosystem, both of the products integrate well as well as with the Apple system. So they're equal players as far as all of that is concerned. As far as the quality of the meeting, Zoom has an edge. But Zoom requires you to download an app which I believe delivers a higher quality feed. The benefit of Google Meet is it's browser based. And since it's coming from Google, it's in the chrome browser, it might have some advantages there. But overall, my sense is the quality of Zoom Meetings is a higher video and audio quality than is the quality of Google Meet meetings. But it's not a deal breaker because the Google Meet meetings, as you saw, are perfectly usable. They were good as far as the quality's concerned. Now as far as security and privacy goes, I believe that they're pretty equal as far as what they're offering. But this will be a point of contention. And I know we will see lots of comments of people who are in the anti-Zoom camp and they think Zoom is a real security risk to anybody living in North America. And that is your opinion and you're certainly welcome to it, and I know you will be sharing it with us in comments. And I love to see those comments. But recognize that there's an equal number of people, and we will probably see an equal number of comments of people concerned with trusting Google. You are trusting one company or the other. And neither one of them, as far as I'm concerned, has shown that they are exemplary as far as earning our trust. So you're basically dancing with one devil or dancing with the other devil by using either of these free services. App versus app, as far as mobilities concerned, they're pretty much of a muchness. They are very, very equal. And let's talk about support for a moment, shall we? And as far as I'm concerned, Google's support is non-existent. And as far as most of you are concerned, from what I'm reading in the comments, the free version of Zoom, the support is pretty much the equal of Google support. The free version, it's pretty much non-existent. Although the paid users in both platforms can expect a certain level of support. But don't expect exemplary support from either of these providers. Google is playing catch up with their services so we should be seeing additional features rolling out in Meet over time. And a lot of the shortcomings that I've talked about within this video probably will be addressed over time. But they've got a long way to go to catch up to the features and benefits and just the mature product that is Zoom. That's it. I hope that you found the video today to be useful. I am really looking forward to the comments and sharing that you have. And reading the comments that you share with me will inform me to help me produce more videos in the future for you. So let me know what you want to see. Now if you have found this valuable, I have a couple of favors to ask. First of all, please give us a like and share this video with others who need to learn more about this topic. And while you're at, if you've not yet subscribed to this channel, what the heck are you waiting for? Click that subscribe button, ring that notification bell, and I will see you next time here on DottoTech. Until then, I'm Steve Dotto. Have fun storming a castle.
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