Google Meet adding Gmail integration, grid layout, improved low-light quality, more

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Meet — as the app is officially called now — has seen immense usage in light of COVID-19. Google today detailed a number of new features for the video conferencing service, starting with Meet integration in Gmail.

In an interview with Reuters, G Suite head Javier Soltero revealed that paying enterprise and education customers will be able to take Meet calls on Gmail’s web client. This is similar to the long-existing classic Hangouts integration that allows for voice and video calling.

Last April, Google did detail that Chat conversations, including full-screen rooms, are coming to Gmail. Like the existing Hangouts integration, it would take the form of messaging windows in the bottom-right corner of the screen.

Today’s announcement about Meet integration is entirely new. It resides just above your list of Hangouts conversations in the bottom-left corner of Gmail. Tapping “Start a meeting” will generate a URL for you to share, while “Join a meeting” lets you enter a meeting code. Alternately, you can use a meeting nickname:

Simply choose a nickname (ex: “catchup” or “kevin-priya”), share it with anyone inside your domain, and type it into “Join a meeting” to get everyone in your meeting.

This feature is rolling out to Gmail on the web over the coming weeks, and also coming to mobile.

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Meanwhile, Google also laid out other upcoming features this month. Following a slew of third-party extensions, Meet will officially offer a Zoom-esque grid layout that allows up to 16 callers to appear simultaneously on-screen as shrunken boxes.

Meet will also see improved video quality in low-light conditions, as well as the ability to filter out background noise from keyboards and slamming doors. Both features are particularly situated to most people’s current remote work situations.

This comes as Meet Usage has soared with 2 million daily new users as of last week, and 2 billion minutes of video calls a day. All paying G Suite customers now have access to premium video conferencing features until September 30, after an extension. This includes meetings with up to 250 participants, internal livestreaming to 100,000 viewers, and recording to Drive.

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