'Meet' Google's new videoconferencing service for the enterprise
- 01 March, 2017 10:13
Google appears to have accidentally revealed its new group videoconferencing service for businesses on Tuesday, a week before a big user conference.
The service, called Meet, appears to be its offering for businesses that want to do group meetings over the Internet. According to a saved iOS App Store listing captured by AppAnnie, it will support high-definition video meetings with up to 30 participants. That’s an upgrade over the company’s existing Hangouts instant messaging and video calling service, which only allows meetings of up to 10 people.
TechCrunch first spotted the listing for Meet, which has since been removed. It doesn’t seem like Meet is going to replace Hangouts, considering that the app’s name in the iOS App Store is “Meet by Google Hangouts.”
Google is holding its major business user conference in San Francisco next week, and it seems likely that we’ll hear more about Meet at that point. The Google Cloud Next website lists several sessions focused on team communication, including one called “The future of team communications,” which cryptically says that attendees will learn about “the latest additions to G Suite in the area of team communications.”
Unified communications and videoconferencing have become an increasingly hot market, with veterans like Microsoft and Cisco competing with dedicated startups like Zoom and chat apps aiming to expand their functionality like HipChat and Slack. Google has been a longtime player in that space, especially on the consumer side with Hangouts, but Meet seems like a more concerted effort to appeal to an enterprise audience.
According to the AppAnnie listing, the service is integrated with G Suite, so people can join meetings from both Google Calendar and Gmail. Based on one of the App Store screenshots, Meet appears to support calls with users from multiple organizations, not just the one originating the call, which would be useful for businesses that need to support conversations with partners or vendors.
G Suite Enterprise users will also be able to get a dial-in phone number, so people can connect to a call with a standard phone. It’s similar to offerings from other videoconferencing services like Skype for Business, WebEx, and the recently-launched Amazon Chime.
A website for the service, located at meet.google.com, is still active as of this writing. Users are able to log into the service using a Google account, but actually starting a meeting through the web portal at this moment requires a meeting code.
It also appears as though the website is currently only accessible using Google’s Chrome Browser. When accessed through Safari or Internet Explorer, it asks users to download Chrome and doesn’t give them access.
That said, the settings for the service offer a few more clues of what it’s capable of. Video sent and received through the desktop appears to be capped at 720p, and users can opt to send and receive 360p video, or only receive audio.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.