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Google Meet features counter Zoombombing, streamline mobile

New Google Meet features announced this week should make the platform better, analysts said. Google will need more to compete with Cisco, Microsoft and Zoom.

Google has unveiled Google Meet features aimed at businesses reconsidering their video conferencing products. The latest update streamlines the process for joining meetings on iOS devices and prevents anonymous users from entering meetings.

The company introduced the features this week. They include blocking anonymous users by default from G Suite for Education Google Meet sessions. Also, "Meet in Gmail" now lets iOS users join meetings from the Gmail mobile app, rather than through a separate app. That feature will be coming to Android soon, Google said.

This week's features and other enhancements announced in recent months improve Google Meet, said Irwin Lazar, an analyst at Nemertes Research. The new technology represents a more coherent strategy toward appealing to users, he said.

Google Meet still lacks popular features like native virtual backgrounds, breakout rooms and polls. Google also has relatively few hardware partners that make meeting room devices compatible with Meet.

Google trails Microsoft, Cisco and Zoom in the business video conferencing market. Throughout its G Suite portfolio, the search giant has been slow to add features that large enterprises require.

However, a significant number of companies are looking for a new video conferencing platform, so the latest changes to Google Meet might help sway some of them, Lazar said. He cited a recent Nemertes survey in which 18% of 528 companies planned to switch meeting platforms. Another 20% were considering such a move.

At the start of the pandemic, many companies chose products that they could deploy quickly for employees working from home, Lazar said.

"[Companies] took advantage of some of the free offers that were out there," he said. "Now, they're starting to think a little bit more strategically."

The recent improvements to Google Meet had been a long time coming, Lazar said. "Zoombombing," in which unauthorized users disrupt a meeting, was a much-publicized problem during the expansion of remote work. Google's mechanism for blocking anonymous users should quell such concerns, he said.

However, Google's approach has its drawbacks, Lazar said. Requiring every meeting participant to have a Google account might frustrate users.

Regarding the new iOS feature, simplifying the process of joining a meeting on an iPhone or iPad is "table stakes" in the video conferencing market, Lazar said.

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