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Google makes premium Hangouts free amid COVID-19

Google makes premium Hangouts free amid COVID-19

Larger calls, livestreams supporting up to 100,000 viewers and meeting upload functionality to Google Drive

Credit: ID 145601903 © Rimidolove | Dreamstime.com

Google has made premium features in its Hangouts Meet video-conferencing tool free until July 1 amid the escalating coronavirus outbreak.

The technology giant has followed the likes of Zoom and Microsoft in opening up its paid-for collaboration tools as the virus COVID-19 continues to spread globally. 

Now, users of G Suite and G Suite for Education will gain free live streaming for up to 100,000 viewers within a domain, plus the ability to record meetings and save them to Google Drive.

The features were previously only available in G Suite’s enterprise edition and G Suite Enterprise for Education.

Detailed in a blog post by Javier Soltero, general manager and vice president of G Suite at Google, the reason behind the move was to support employers, educators and students working and learning from home in order to stem the contagion of the coronavirus.

“As more businesses adjust their work-from-home policies and adopt reduced travel plans in response to COVID-19, we're helping to ensure that all globally distributed teams can still reliably meet face to face, even if employees are not in the same location,” Soltero said.

“In Hong Kong and Vietnam, where schools have already been closed, we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of students start using both Hangouts Meet, our video-conferencing tool available to all G Suite users, and Google Classroom, to join classes and continue their schooling remotely from home.

“We’re committed to supporting our users and customers during this challenging time, and are continuing to scale our infrastructure to support greater Hangouts Meet demand, ensuring streamlined, reliable access to the service throughout this period.” 

The move comes as Microsoft makes Microsoft Teams free for the next six months and as companies are renewing their focus on collaboration and remote work.


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