Google removes Google Meet's 60-minute time limit for free Gmail users until next year in a bid to compete with other video conferencing apps.
In a time when online meetings and virtual classrooms are the norms, Google is trying hard to make its Meet app a formidable video conferencing player. Recently, it added a host of new functionalities in rapid succession in a bid to make an impression and attract more users. Today, Google announced that it removed the 60-minute time limit of Google Meet until next year for free Gmail users who are using the app for their virtual meetings or lectures.
During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google made it a point to offer its premium features free of charge. Instead of restricting a few capabilities to higher-paid tiers, features like internal live streaming, call recording to Drive, and 250-person meetings became free for all G Suite users. One month later, Google announced the integration of Google Meet with Gmail and that regular users can use the app for free. Google then said it will not enforce the 60-minute time limit of Google Meet for free Gmail users until September 30. At the time, it appears that the company is not going to extend the Sept. 30 deadline any further.
A day before the Sept. 30 deadline, Google announced on Tuesday that free Gmail users can still use the Google Meet app beyond the 60-minute time limit until next year. This means that regular users can continue enjoying unlimited Meet calls into next year. Although there is a 24-hour technical limitation that most users may not encounter anyway, the announcement is seen as a turnaround for Google to make its Meet app a formidable video conferencing option for regular users.
Industry observers attribute the decision of Google to remove the 60-minute time limit of Google Meet for free Gmail users to the increasing practice of using video conferencing apps for meetings, lectures, and even business deals. With no end in sight for the current health crisis and with a vaccine still months, or even a year away, the likelihood of in-person meetings or classes in the immediate future seems nil. The situation is juicy enough for major video conferencing apps to jump into and it appears that Google is joining the mad scramble.
In an official statement released a day before the supposed deadline of unlimited Meet calls, Google said that it is extending its promo. The company reasoned out that with the holiday season just around the corner and everyone is wary of traveling to another place, Google Meet can help gather families together and still stay in touch over video. According to the company, free Gmail users can still use Google Meet beyond the 60-minute time limit until next year for this reason. Google said its unlimited Meet calls promo, which is up to 24 hours in the free version, will continue until March 31, 2021.