Google is making the premium paid features in its Hangouts Meet video-conferencing features free until 1st July 2020, to help businesses and schools keep operating remotely as they are impacted by the COVID-19 Outbreak.
These features include being able to have up to 250 participants per call, live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, and the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive.
“As more employees, educators, and students work remotely in response to the spread of COVID-19, we want to do our part to help them stay connected and productive.” Google wrote in a blog post, where this initiative was announced.
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent company Alphabet. REUTERS/Brandon Wade/File Photo
We want to help businesses and schools impacted by COVID-19 stay connected: starting this week, we'll roll out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities through July 1, 2020 to all G Suite customers globally. https://t.co/OWWF7s5jjR
— Sundar Pichai (@sundarpichai) March 3, 2020
This comes as Zoom, a competitor to Google’s Hangouts Meet tool, lifted time limits on its free product for users in China. Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan, who grew up in China’s Shandong Province, wrote in a blog post that he wanted to help those who are deeply impacted by the virus as it continues to disrupt daily affairs, from offices to classrooms.
As concerns over the coronavirus spread, more white collar workers are working from home and in areas where schools have been closed, educators are struggling to keep students up to date. Google says they are seeing students and teachers in Hong Kong and Vietnam use Hangouts Meet and other classroom tools because schools are closed.
Analysts say that cloud software tools that help people stay connected could actually benefit from increased usage.
Zoom has reportedly seen a large increase in usage since the spread of coronavirus began. Zoom has already brought in more new active users this year than last year due to coronavirus, Wall Street firm Bernstein Research estimates, according to CNBC.
Google Cloud has also cancelled its largest conference of the year, Google Cloud Next, due to concerns over the coronavirus and is limiting employee travel to Italy, Iran, Japan, and South Korea. Last week, Google confirmed that an employee who was in the company’s Zurich office tested positive for the coronavirus.