Group video calling is rolling out to Google's camera-equipped smart display.
Video chats and online conferencing are, for better or worse, the new way of doing business and keeping up with family and friends. Smart displays offer a way to chat hands-free without your phone or computer, but only for one-on-one calls. Beginning today, group calling in Google Duo and Google Meet will roll out to the Nest Hub Max smart display.
In April, Google reported adding 2 million new users a day, as people around the world looked for new ways to communicate. With mobile and desktop Meet users on the rise, adding smart displays to the mix is a sensible next step. Earlier this year Google opened access to its Meet app, making it free to everyone, adding it to mobile devices and suspending the 60-minute call limit until after Sept. 30.
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With Duo group video calling on Nest Hub Max, you host a call with up to 32 people. You must create a Groups in the Duo mobile app. Once you've done that, you'll be able to select it on your smart display by asking, "Hey Google, make a group call," and tapping on the Duo group you want to call.
Group calls on the Nest Hub Max include the display camera's auto-framing feature, so you can move around the room while staying in view. In addition to the Nest Hub Max, Duo group video calling is coming to four Google-powered smart displays: LG WK9 Smart Display, JBL Link View and Lenovo's 8 inch and 10 inch Smart Displays.
If you need to chat with more than 32 people, Google Meet offers a more corporate feeling solution for up to 100 people. By saying, "Hey Google, start a meeting" you'll be able to create a new meeting from your smart display. Dial into an existing meeting with, "Hey Google, join a meeting" then type in your meeting code to join. You can also join a meeting from your connected Google Calendar by asking, "Hey Google, join my next meeting". Meet group video calling is launching first on the Nest Hub Max.
Google made Meet free for all users in an effort to compete with Zoom for a piece of the video-chatting pie. Previously, Meet was available only to paying customers of G Suite enterprise apps like Gmail, Drive and Docs.
In addition to these video calling updates, Google is rolling out beta smart display support for G Suite accounts to make connecting to work meetings on your personal Nest Hub Max easier. You'll need to ask your G Suite administrator to apply for the beta program for your company's domain at g.co/gsuiteassistantbeta.
Google is also adding something called Household Contacts, an on-screen approach to speed dial. A displayed card includes common contacts that anyone in your home can call without voice match by tapping the name on-screen or saying, "Hey Google, call Jane." This is rolling out to Google Assistant-enabled smart speakers and smart displays in the US starting today.
Consumers working from home and distancing from family have more choices than ever when it comes to how to make calls. These updates and integrations are Google's latest efforts to compete with more established video call software like Zoom and Skype as well as the dozens of other apps bringing video calling into the mainstream.
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