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Google Meet launches improved Zoom-like tiled layout, low-light mode and more

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TECHCRUNCH 22 APR 2020

Google  Meet, like all video chat products, is seeing rapid growth in user numbers right now, so it’s no surprise that Google is trying to capitalize on this and is quickly iterating on its product.

Today, it is officially launching a set of new features that include a more Zoom-like tiled layout, a low-light mode for when you have to make calls at night and the ability to present a single Chrome tab instead of a specific window or your entire screen. Soon, Meet will also get built-in noise cancellation so nobody will hear your dog bark in the background.

If all of this sounds a bit familiar, it’s probably because G Suite exec Javier Soltero  already talked to Reuters about these features last week. Google PR is usually pretty straightforward, but in this case, it moved in mysterious ways.

Today, though, these features are actually starting to roll out to users, a Google spokesperson told me, and today’s announcement does actually provide more details about each of these features.

For the most part, what’s being announced here is obvious. The tiled layout allows web users to see up to 16 participants at once. Previously, that number was limited to four and Google promises it will offer additional layouts for larger meetings and better presentation layouts, as well as support for more devices in the future.

For the most part, having this many people stare at me from my screen doesn’t seem necessary (and more likely to induce stress than anything else), but the ability to present a single Chrome tab is surely a welcome new feature for many.

But what’s probably just as important is that this means you can share higher-quality video content from these tabs than before.

If you often take meetings in the dark, low-light mode uses AI to brighten up your video.

Unlike some of the other features, this one is coming to mobile first and will come to web users in the future.

Personally, I’m most excited about the new noise cancellation feature. Typically, noise cancellation works best for noises that repeat and are predictable. Think about the constant drone of an airplane or your neighbor’s old lawnmower.

But Google says Meet can now go beyond this and also cancel out barking dogs and your noisy keystrokes.

That has increasingly become table stakes, with even Discord offering similar capabilities and Nvidia RTX Voice now making this available in a slew of applications for users of its high-end graphics cards, but it’s nice to see this as a built-in feature for Meet now.

This feature will only roll out in the coming weeks and will initially be available to G Suite Enterprise and G Suite Enterprise for Education users on the web, with mobile support coming later.

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