With this, Google’s initiative to allow free users to hold group chats for up to 24 hours during the coronavirus pandemic seems to have come to an end.
Google Meet: Google is finally imposing its time limit on group Meet calls for free users. In its updated guidelines for Google Meet, the tech giant has said that free Gmail users would only be able to hold group video calls having three participants or more for a maximum of 60 minutes. On the other hand, one-to-one calls would continue to have a maximum capacity of 24 hours for free users. With this, Google’s initiative to allow free users to hold group chats for up to 24 hours during the coronavirus pandemic seems to have come to an end.
When the search engine giant made its video conferencing solution available to all Gmail users in April last year, it had said that it would impose a maximum time limit of 60 minutes for free users in September 2020, but considering the fact that coronavirus pandemic was still raging, it extended the deadline first to March 2021, and then to June 2021. Now, though, the updated guidelines have made it clear that any other extension is unlikely, probably due to the fact that the vaccination drive is gathering pace all over the world and numerous offices have resumed offline work culture.
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Google has said that once the video call has been running for 55 minutes, all users would get a notification telling them that the call was about to end. In case the host wishes to extend the call beyond 60 minutes, they would need to upgrade their Google account, otherwise the call would terminate at 60 minutes.
However, it is not yet clear if once the 60-minute limit is reached, the Meet link itself would be disabled, forcing the user to make a new one, or if rejoining the same link would help. Reports, though, indicate that it would likely be the former, which means that while creating a new link is not particularly difficult, it would cause some annoyance among the users, especially if their personal group conversations are interrupted mid-way.
Google has, however, recently announced a new Google Workspace Individual tier which would allow users to upgrade their accounts and host a group video call for up to 24 hours. The upgrade has been announced in a few countries for now, and it has been priced at $9.99 or about Rs 745 a month in the US.
In any case, a free user is no longer going to be able to host group video calls on Google Meet for more than 60 minutes at a stretch now, it seems.