Saturday, November 27, 2021

The global health crisis initiated a period in which at one point it seemed that 10 years worth of evolution was compressed into 10 months. Businesses were forced to embrace remote work, and as a consequence of that, adopt the enabling technologies of remote work, such as video conferencing apps. Zoom was the great winner of the 2020 pandemic period, resulting in massive returns for its investors. Zoom’s success and the demands of users forced competitors such as Google Meet to accelerate their evolution and try to offer better solutions to their users. In a piece for Mobile Syrup, Aisha Malik discusses how Google Meet has issued new video filters, effects and and artificial reality (AR) masks for personal calls on Android and iOS.

Google made the announcement in a tweet. The new features are available through the Google Meet’s sparkle icon on the bottom right of the video feed you get during a call. The announcement adds to the plethora of features that Google Meets already offers, including animated AR face effects and color filters. The majority of the options are available only for people with personal GMail accounts. Google Workspace users obviously need more professional features so their selection is much more limited. On Workspace, you will get features such as virtual background and blurring features, which many people use when their background isn’t professional enough for a call.

The features hint at Google Meet’s shift in strategy. Previously, the target market for the app was business and enterprise users. Now it seems that Google Meets is targeting the consumer market, much like Zoom, hence the decision last year to release Meet to people with free to personal Google accounts. If you use Duo’s video chat service (which itself is focused on consumers), you’ll have a sense of déjà vu. This is because the features Google Meets is now releasing were already available to Duo. According to 9to5Google, Google plans on replacing Duo with Google Meet.

Google already has a number of messaging products, which confuses a lot of consumers, but if 9to5’s reporting is accurate, we should have one less messaging service to think of.

Zoom has become a cultural phenomena. Yet, that should not distract you from the fact that Google Meets is one of the best video conferencing apps out there. Since shifting toward a focus on consumers, the app has evolved significantly as the company has tried to close the gap on Zoom and gain traction with consumers. The design has become more spacious, they have brought in video backgrounds, they have developed a battery saver feature, among many other developments. The present developments are simply one in a long line of assaults on Zoom’s hegemony.

If for instance you frequently call your loved ones at Skylark adult day care, 9to5Google reports that the company will soon be releasing a new update that will have even more filters and masks to make your video calls that much more fun. The new features are akin to what Snapchat users will be used to and will allow users to turn their face into a cat, dog, jellyfish, robot, and other things. The upcoming update will also allow users to use a “Style” section through which they will be able to add a black & white lens as well as lens flare effects. For users of Zoom, these features have already existed, but they do represent a closing of the gap between Google Meets and Zoom.

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