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Google today announced a number of updates to Google Meet, including a refreshed user interface, features powered by AI, and tools that aim to make meetings more engaging. Among the highlights is a data saver mode that limits data usage on mobile networks, and Autozoom, which uses AI to zoom in and position participants in front of their cameras.
The pandemic has supercharged video chat usage. Eighty-three percent of businesses with over 250 employees are likely to purchase video calling tools in the near future, according to a survey by Commercial Integrator. Underlining the trend, Meet had over 50 million users as of May 2020, a 900% increase from last March.
Meet’s new Data Saver feature, which launches this month, automatically limits data usage on mobile and other bandwidth-constrained networks. It will arrive alongside improvements to low-light mode for Meet, a capability that leverages AI to brighten video in poorly lit environments. Previously only available for smartphones and tablets, low-light mode will soon work on the web, detecting when users are underexposed and enhancing quality to improve their visibility.
Meanwhile, Autozoom, which will arrive for paid Google Workspace customers in the coming months, is a feature that taps AI to zoom in and position users squarely in-camera. Autozoom intelligently readjusts as users move, ensuring they remain in the frame, Google says.
Beyond Data Saver, low-light mode on the web, and Autozoom, Meet will soon allow users to replace their background with an image of a classroom, party, or forest — with more on the way. In the future, Meet for web will also offer greater control over how users see themselves in meetings. For example, they’ll be able to shrink their video feed to a tile in a grid or a floating picture, with the latter resizable, as well as moveable. And if they prefer not to see themselves at all, users will be able to minimize their feed and hide it from view, optionally disabling their self-feed across calls.
Meet will also offer a way to pin and unpin content that will shrink the presentation tile down to the size of the other tiles. And the bottom bar will become easier to navigate — meeting dial-in codes, attachments, the participants’ list, chat, and other activities will move to the bottom right to create more vertical space for participants and content. The “leave call” button will also move away from the camera and microphone buttons to prevent accidental hang-ups, Google says.
This week, Google also updated Google Maps with over 100 AI-powered improvements, like upgraded Live View navigation that enables users to get turn-by-turn directions indoors. Other enhancements include a new routing model that optimizes for lower fuel consumption based on factors like road incline and traffic congestion, as well as a layer that shows current and forecasted weather and temperature conditions.
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