As we announced in June, we’re upgrading the Google Duo experience to include all Google Meet features and bringing our two video calling services together into a single solution. This upgrade, which started rolling out last month, gives everyone access to new features like scheduling and joining meetings, virtual backgrounds, in-meeting chat and more, in addition to your current video calling features.
Additional meeting features let you start an instant video call with your entire study group or connect with your colleagues at a recurring scheduled time. Before you join a meeting, you’ll be able to change your background or apply visual effects. During the meeting, you’ll also be able to use in-meeting chat and captions for more ways to participate.
We’re also launching live sharing for Google Meet. Live sharing allows all meeting participants to interact with the content that’s being shared. So whether you’re co-watching videos on YouTube, curating a playlist on Spotify, taking turns while playing games like Heads Up!, UNO! Mobile or Kahoot! during an ice breaker, everyone will be able to join in on the action.
What to expect
Over the past few weeks, we’ve started rolling out these new features to your Duo app, and now, users are beginning to see their app name and icon update to Google Meet. This upgrade will take place throughout the month across mobile and tablet devices, and will come later for other devices. To ensure a smooth transition, keep your app updated to the latest version.
If you’re using the existing Google Meet app, there will be no change to your experience. Your existing Meet app and icon will change to Google Meet (original). You can continue using this app to join and schedule meetings, but we recommend using the updated Google Meet app to get combined video meeting and calling features all in one place. We will continue to invest in bringing more features to Google Meet to help people to connect, collaborate and share experiences on any device, at home, at school and at work.
We're committed to making the transition as smooth as possible. For more information, please see our Help Center.
When we launched Google One a little over four years ago, our goal was to create a membership to help you get the most out of Google — starting with more storage and expert support. Over the years, we’ve introduced new ways to get more value from your membership, like a VPN for added security, advanced Google Photos editing tools and Google Store rewards.
Today, we’re bringing an even more premium experience to Google One members. Several Google Workspace capabilities, previously only available to businesses with paid Google Workspace subscriptions, are coming to our Premium 2 TB and higher plans.
Stay connected with enhanced video calling
From keeping in touch with loved ones to learning new skills, video calls have become a core part of our daily lives. To help Google One members stay connected, we’re offering enhanced video calling features from Google Meet in Google Workspace.
Now, you don’t need to stick to the one-hour time limit for group video calls — you can chat with your favorite people for up to 24 hours (great for virtual movie nights and socially-distanced gatherings). You can also filter out background noise, like dog barks or construction sounds, so everyone can hear you more clearly. And finally, you can securely record and store calls to Google Drive to relive and share special moments like virtual birthday celebrations.
Enhanced video calling is starting to roll out today for Google One members on Premium 2 TB and above plans in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Japan and Australia — with more countries coming soon. Over time, Google One members will get access to additional select premium features from Google Workspace — across Google Meet, Gmail and Calendar — and other Google products.
If you’re not already a Google One member, you can sign up for a Premium 2 TB Google One plan. If you’re a business interested in the full set of professional Google Workspace features, sign up for a Google Workspace Business plan.
Editor’s Note: Join us for Google for Education’s product launch event, The Anywhere School 2022, to find out about the latest features to help students pursue their personal potential.
Whether learning takes place in the classroom, or virtually on Google Meet, control remains paramount. It’s also important to enhance educational tools that help take teaching and learning further for every educator and student. Today we’re announcing several new Google Workspace for Education tools rooted in enhancing learning for the individual and classroom, giving educators more control and increasing support for diverse learners.
Enrich teaching and learning experiences for all types of learners
No one student experience is the same, so it’s a key priority for us to ensure the entire learning environment is enhanced. Earlier this year, we announced many features in Docs, like Assistive Writing features and the ability to use Meet directly in Docs, Sheets and Slides. For our Google Workspace for Education Plus and Teaching and Learning Upgrade customers, we announced live-translated captions in Meet, which allows hosts to add live-translated captions to support video meetings for language classes, multilingual audiences and even parent/guardian teacher conferences.
Today, we’re adding even more features to make Meet useful in the classroom. which are all available in Google Workspace for Education Plus and the Teaching & Learning Upgrade:
- Host Q&As and Polls in live stream: Users in a livestream later this year can participate in Q&As and polls, matching the experience Meet attendees enjoy today.
- Auto-transcribe Meet calls directly into a Google Doc: Keep a record of meetings with less storage than a recording and provide an easier way to edit, review, search and share lessons with students.
- Live stream public events directly to YouTube: Live stream Meet video calls to the public via YouTube for events like school board meetings, school assemblies and much more.
We’ve also made significant updates to Originality Reports in both Classroom and Assignments. Schools using Education Plus or the Teaching and Learning Upgrade can soon analyze Microsoft Word documents and backfill their private, school-owned repository with previous student classwork so teachers can compare student-to-student matches, in addition to hundreds of billions of web pages and over 40 million books. Also, starting today, originality reports can run reports in more languages including Dutch, Thai and Tagalog.
Increased controls and safety
We’re adding new Meet features to make sure you have control and can manage your class:
- Additional Meet controls: Admins can now control whether users in their organization can share their screen and use polls, Q&As, and whiteboarding to reduce student distractions and allow only teachers to use these settings.
- Picture-in-Picture: To be able to see and manage your class while presenting, we added Picture-in-Picture in Google Meet. Hosts can now see up to four meeting participants while presenting and navigating different tabs and windows, when running Meet on Chrome browsers.
Building more inclusive learning environments
We believe in building with and for people with disabilities, and one of the ways we do that is by building accessibility features directly into our products.
- Individualized accessibility preferences: Previously, these preferences were shared across all Workspace tools, meaning users needed to continuously turn them on and off. Now, accessibility features, like high contrast mode, will automatically work in Docs, Sheets and Slides, without needing to turn on an Editor-specific preference.
- Alt-text in Gmail: You can now add alt-text to your images in Gmail. This allows people to add context for an image, making it accessible for people using screen readers and helping them better understand exactly what is being shared.
With these improvements, we aim to change the way the classroom is connected, with the ability to teach across various learners’ needs. We look forward to another upcoming school year that is more connected and more personalized, regardless of where learning is taking place.
Carolien Postma is used to testing and retesting (and retesting) new features. She’s a user experience (UX) researcher at Google, a role she describes as “making sure that whatever we build and create, that it actually creates value for our users and that it actually does what our users need it to do.”
Over the past nine months, she’s been part of the team testing the upcoming emoji reactions for Google Meet. “This release was about giving people an easy way to express their feelings and feedback in a way that helped everyone in a call feel more connected,” Carolien says. “This was a fun one, too, because it’s something I can point to that makes my work tangible!”
While the work was certainly fun, it was also important: Emoji help teams celebrate wins and offer support, and it’s important they represent everyone. Because of this, there were plenty of research hours behind the project. Here are a few of the things Carolien and her fellow UX researchers on the team investigated, and how this work turned up in the final designs.
Emoji for all.
Carolien and her team worked hard to ensure choosing the right emoji was seamless. “We wanted to include emoji that are universally understood, and mean the same or similar things across cultures,” Carolien says. Because other Google products use emoji and emoji reactions, they were able to take a look at this research to inform the new feature. You’ll see that the experience is configured in a way that lets people easily give a thumbs up, clap or heart.
The whole idea behind emoji reactions is to foster a feeling of connection.
It’s all in the timing.
Another design choice made as a result of testing was the emoji reactions’ “rhythm.” When Meet participants click an emoji, it floats up across the screen — and when multiple people do this, they all do so with specific timing. It took a while to determine what that timing looked like and felt like. “The whole idea behind emoji reactions is to foster a feeling of connection,” Carolien says. “And we found that if the timing was off, the whole feeling of connectedness fell away.” This research helped the design team settle on a timing that felt human instead of mechanic.
“We wanted emoji reactions to be expressive and convey emotions, and at the same time, not feel like they’re taking over the call and distracting from the meeting,” Carolien explains. The team tested how people reacted not only to the emoji popping up in their meetings, but also to things like where the feature was placed inside Meet calls. “We wanted to make sure it was easy for people to find and allow them to get to it quickly — so no one misses the moment!” In one iteration, Carolien says, the emoji bar was too close to the end call button. “We obviously didn’t want someone to go send an emoji and hang up on their call, so we ended up moving it.”
The pros of pros and cons.
While Carolien has been a UX researcher for more than 15 years, even she can be surprised by what testing can reveal — case in point, what her team found out about including so-called “negative” emoji reactions. “Initially we only had ‘positive’ emoji — like a smiley or a thumbs-up,” she says. “But then we tested it more and we found that people sometimes need to use a ‘negative’ emoji — like a thumbs-down — to convey something.”
For example, if someone in a call is describing a tough situation they’re going through, a thumbs-up or smiley emoji might be seen as sarcastic, while a face with open mouth emoji ? could be seen as sympathetic to someone’s struggles. Carolien and her team also found that positive emoji (like a thumbs up, or a heart) are used more frequently than negative emoji (a thumbs down), so they intentionally grouped the positive emoji in a way that makes them easy to get to, since people tend to use them more to show support or share kudos.
Emoji reactions in Meet are just part of the latest Google Workplace updates — in the coming weeks, Meet will be available directly in Docs, Sheets and Slides to facilitate collaborative working sessions, and inline threading in Spaces will help keep conversations organized and contextual. Be sure to check out the Google Cloud blog for everything that’s new and coming soon.
Safer Internet Day is about coming together for a better, safer internet – and we at Google for Education are committed to working with schools and families to provide a safe online learning environment. Every day, Google keeps more people safe online than anyone else in the world with products that are secure by default, private by design and put you in control. And this promise extends to all that we build for you, school leaders.
Constant online protections for education
At Google for Education, we’re always looking for new ways to keep you safe. All of our products are private by design, which means they support compliance with the most rigorous data privacy standards — including FERPA, COPPA and GDPR — and are regularly audited by independent, third-party organizations. By making Google for Education products secure by default, we provide additional layers of protection, with ad-free learning experiences that help keep students safe from online threats and age-inappropriate content. And we put you in control, with a dashboard that gives you full visibility of your data and security, regular Google Security Checkups that help you maintain a secure account and additional security features in your security center to protect your school’s data and devices.
Our goal is to support and protect each member of your education community so they can focus on what matters most: teaching and learning.
Google Meet offers more moderation, control and integration
With our ongoing effort to provide a safer learning environment, we’ve been focusing on combating a prominent security pain point for many schools today: video meetings. We’re excited to share some recently announced enhanced security measures for Google Meet to help educators and students connect in a full class setting or one-on-one with fewer distractions and more privacy and security.
In-meeting moderation controls: To help educators engage with their students, we’ve added more ways to help moderate class meetings and eliminate unwanted intrusions or interruptions. With these new features hosts can:
- Control who can use the chat and present features
- Turn on or off audio and video of individuals or everyone in the main call and breakout rooms
- Move participants from breakout rooms
[f18fc6]back to the main room
- Share moderation controls with up to 25 co-hosts
Control and visibility: We know admins need more ways to protect their schools and more data and insights to drive comprehensive decision making, so we’ve rolled out additional admin features that allow them to:
- Apply safety settings across their domain
- End meetings for everyone and prevent people from rejoining
- Get insights into how people are using Meet
- Identify, triage and act upon any security breaches
Google Classroom integration: We’re making Meet and Classroom work even better together. The Google Meet integration with Classroom helps educators meet and work with their classes more easily and securely, allowing them to:
- Access the Class Meet link from the stream to limit distribution to class members only, while making meeting links easier for teachers to manage and for students to find
- Keep students in a waiting room until the teacher joins, and uninvited guests must ask to join to ensure a safer environment for class interaction
- All designated co-teachers are co-hosts by default so multiple teachers can help keep the class meeting on track and secure
In addition to these newly added moderation and security features, Google Meet runs on one of the world's most advanced security infrastructures for scalability and control. Meet adheres to IETF security standards for Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) and Secure Real-time Transport Protocol (SRTP). In Meet, all data is encrypted in transit by default, whether meeting on a web browser, on the Android and iOS apps, or in meeting rooms with Google meeting room hardware. Meeting IDs are 10 characters long, with 25 characters in the set, making unauthorized access by guessing the ID extremely difficult.
We look forward to sharing more about our work to keep you safer with Google, including details on our new partnership with Khan Academy to develop free, online lessons that will help teach people how to stay safe online.
We remain committed to providing industry-leading privacy and security protections built into Google for Education products, which enable students and teachers to work better together by connecting safely and securely.
As we explored in a recent global survey we commissioned from Economist Impact, employees around the world are looking for new ways of working and connecting with each other and their organizations as remote and hybrid work models continue to evolve. Creating a blueprint for more inclusive and collaborative meetings can help teams feel more connected—wherever and however they work together.
If you work with people in other time zones, then you know scheduling can be a logistical headache. At Google, we follow a few guidelines to optimize participation.
Only invite those who can contribute: If you aren’t sure, invite less meeting-essential teammates as “optional.”
Choose dates and times that work for more people: For teams in distant time zones,add other timezones to your calendar to schedule global meetings well in advance and discuss alternating host time zones for regular calls.
Add an agenda to the Calendar invite: Let people know at least 24 hours in advance what a meeting will be about — for example: “This meeting will be successful if we leave with four great ideas from the brainstorming session” — so participants can prepare. And don’t forget you can schedule send the agenda to arrive right before the meeting or at the correct time for different timezone attendees.
Encourage RSVPing with location: Have attendees share whether they will attend “in a meeting room” or if they are “joining virtually” so everyone, including the organizer, knows what to expect.
Rotate facilitator and note-taker roles: Having team members alternate roles lessens the burden on one person and gives everyone a chance to participate more fully.
Prep with Spaces
Spaces is Google Workspace’s central place for team collaboration. It works closely with tools like Gmail, Calendar, Chat, Drive and Meet so coworkers can digitally work on projects, share ideas and even connect on a personal level better. Participants can prepare for meetings by reviewing documents and presentations side-by-side and collaborate with questions and suggestions, with everything saved in Spaces for future reference.
Accessing content directly from Spaces can help meeting attendees stay up to date.
During the meeting
Good hybrid meetings shouldn’t feel like two different conversations that happen in the room and remotely. To keep them feeling like a single inclusive experience, try the following:
Help virtual team members connect: Acknowledge when remote teammates join and use the first five minutes to connect. Some Google teams start by asking questions like “what was the best thing you ate this weekend?” or playing interesting YouTube videos.
Keep and share meeting notes: Notetakers can use a pre-populated notes Doc in the Calendar invite or even meeting recordings to share what happened with attendees and anyone who couldn’t attend.
Collaborate with Companion mode: Google Meet’s Companion mode can help everyone participate, no matter where they are. For people in the conference room, Companion mode turns off the video and audio on laptops so participants can use functions like chat, screen sharing, hand-raising, polls, host controls and more, while avoiding feedback with the conference room hardware. Additionally, team members can also enable captions and translations in their preferred language and view presentations up-close on their own device.
Foster inclusivity: Facilitators can make sure everyone feels heard by encouraging remote contributions, avoiding “in the room” side conversations and reminding mixed language teams to use translated captions.
Provide multiple ways to give feedback: Not everyone is comfortable speaking in a meeting, so make sure people know they can use the chat option, or try using the poll feature to engage everyone in offering input.
Use virtual rather than physical whiteboards: With Jamboard or the Jamboard app, remote attendees can also view and contribute.
Join Companion mode by selecting “Use Companion mode” under Other joining options.
After the meeting
Many of us have experienced meeting fatigue as our teams became more distributed during the last two years. But it’s always crucial to make sure attendees feel like their time is well spent, and there are a few ways you can do that. For starters, try sending a follow-up note thanking attendees for coming, asking for feedback and sharing any notes, recordings, action items, and decisions. You can also post meeting assets to the relevant Spaces so absent team members can contribute. It’s also a good idea to gather general feedback for recurring meetings — try polling people once a quarter using Google Forms, possibly anonymously — about how the meeting could be made more productive and inclusive.
Discover more tips and best practices
As hybrid meetings become the norm for millions of people, discovering and encouraging best practices that make meetings more inclusive is an essential part of the evolving future of work.
Discover more hybrid work tips and best practices on our future of work site.
Eight cousins. Six aunts and uncles. A couple of toddlers (both mine). Two (adorable) felines. Some of us will be together, while others will be staying home for the holidays this year.
Sound familiar? Thankfully, many of us have learned a thing or two about “hybrid” gatherings over the past two years. I figured if it could work for…well, work, why not for the holidays?
I’ll be using Google tools to help me host with ease no matter where my friends and family are this year, and I’ve come up with a list of tips so you can, too.
Ready to soirée? Follow these four steps to fête across technical devices and state lines.
Step 1: Draft up a pun-heavy holiday invitation in Gmail. Tailor it for your party and include a Google Calendar invite and link to the Google Meet in the invite. And if you want to keep things extra organized as responses come in, you can make a group and label it “Holiday Party 2021.” Pro tip: Set up an automated reminder to go out to your guests 24 hours before the party.
Step 2: Ahead of party time, send a note to guests attending via Google Meet about the itinerary and let them know what they’ll need to participate. For instance, if you’re hosting a cookie-making party, send the recipe ahead of time. Or if you’re going to vote on ugly sweaters, let them know about Meet’s hand raise feature and polling features so they can be sure to get their vote in (available with Google Workspace Individual).
Step 3: Make everyone feel like they’re together. Whether you host the Google Meet call from your laptop, Pixel or Google Nest Hub Max, you can cast the party to your TV using Chromecast so everyone who’s there IRL can get a good view. Ahead of party time, scope out a good spot for the device that’s hosting the meeting so those on the other end of the call can see and hear everyone. (And so your virtual guests feel present, include the instructions for casting a call to a TV in the note you send before the big day, too.)
Step 4: Welcome your guests and make room for all. With Google Workspace Individual, you can show off the hand raise feature so everyone gets a turn to tell a story or joke, enable live captions so all guests can follow the conversation flow easily, and cut out background sounds (like noisy pets!) to reduce distractions. Kindly point out where the mute button is at the start of the party, too. Distracted by the mirror image of yourself on the video call screen? Turn it off with a few clicks! Use the Layout feature so everyone is on the screen at once — no matter where they are.
Step 5: Make it fun! Tap your much cooler niece to create a party playlist on YouTube, and then screen share the tab open to your YouTube playlist for the party. (You can let your guests know they can unpin the shared tile so it doesn’t take up the whole screen.) You and your guests can also use a virtual background (you could even upload a festive backdrop like your favorite photo memories!) You can use Google Jamboard — a free-to-use, virtual whiteboard —and play an IRL-meets-online edition of Pictionary.
Step 6: Give thanks. Send a thank you email after the party wraps. If you have a Google Workspace Individual account, you can record the party for your loved ones who couldn't attend live — just make sure to let attendees know ahead of time.
Hope you enjoyed this crash course in hybrid holiday hosting.
Pictures are a big part of how we see each other and the world around us, and historically racial bias in camera technology has overlooked and excluded people of color. That same bias can carry through in our modern imaging tools if they aren’t tested with a diverse group of people and inputs, delivering unfair experiences for people of color, like over-brightening or unnaturally desaturating skin. We acknowledge that Google has struggled in this area in the past, and are committed to continuing to improve our products accordingly. As part of Google’s Product Inclusion and Equity efforts, our teams are on a mission to build camera and imaging products that work equitably for all people, so that everyone feels seen, no matter their skin tone.
Pixel 6: A more equitable camera
Building better tools for a community works best when they’re built with the community. For the new Pixel 6 Camera, we partnered with a diverse range of renowned image makers who are celebrated for their beautiful and accurate depictions of communities of color—including Kira Kelly, Deun Ivory, Adrienne Raquel, Kristian Mercado, Zuly Garcia, Shayan Asgharnia, Natacha Ikoli and more—to help our teams understand where we needed to do better. With their help, we've significantly increased the number of portraits of people of color in the image datasets that train our camera models. Their feedback helped us make the key improvements across our face detection, camera and editing products that we call Real Tone.
Let’s take a deeper look at how we approached these improvements:
- In computational photography, making a great portrait depends on the camera’s ability to detect a face. We radically diversified the images that train our face detector to “see” more diverse faces in a wider array of lighting conditions.
- Auto-white balance models help determine color in a picture. Our partners helped us make better decisions about how to render the nuances of skin for people of color.
- Auto-exposure models help determine the brightness of an image. Feedback from our experts helped us ensure that our camera shows you as you are — not unnaturally darker or brighter.
- Our teams noticed that stray light had a tendency to disproportionately wash out darker skin tones, so we developed and implemented an algorithm to reduce its effect in our images.
- Blurriness in portraits is a consistent concern for people with darker skin tones, so our teams used the Tensor chip’s processing power to make our portraits sharper through motion metering, even in low light conditions.
It was important for us to be sure that our adjustments were resonant with our collaborators as well, and we’re proud that they rated Pixel 6’s rendering of skin tone, brightness, depth and detail as best for people of color in a device-agnostic survey comparing top smartphone cameras.
Google Photos: More nuanced auto enhancements
Our partners’ expertise also helped our teams improve Google Photos’ popular auto enhance feature, so you can achieve a beautiful, representative photo regardless of when you took the photo, or which device you used. The updated auto enhance is designed to improve your picture’s color and lighting with just a tap, and works well across skin tones. It will roll out in Google Photos across Android and iOS devices in the coming weeks.
A mission, not a moment
We’re committed to building a more equitable experience across all of our camera and image products. To improve the visibility of meeting participants, we recently launched automaticlighting adjustments in Google Meet, and tested it across a range of skin tones to ensure it works well for everyone. And our Research teams are identifying more inclusive ways to handle skin tone in AI systems, both in Google products and across the industry. We’ll continue to partner with experts, listen to feedback and invest in tools and experiences that work for everyone. Because everyone deserves to be seen as they are.
Learn more about our efforts on Real Tone at http://g.co/pixel/realtone.