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Google Meet adds another free feature to take on Zoom

There are plenty of services to choose from when it comes to video calls. Zoom, Skype, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams all have their own unique strengths and drawbacks — but some of their most popular features are starting to cross over between them.

Take, for example, Zoom’s custom background feature. Until recently, you had to download a third-party extension to get custom backgrounds and filters outside of Zoom. Tap or click here to see how you can add Snap Camera lenses to your video calls.

And now, custom backgrounds are finally coming to Google Meet. This highly-requested feature lets you spruce up your video call with a range of fun wallpapers and backgrounds. You can even upload your own image to use from your computer. Here’s how to try it out for yourself.

A beloved Zoom feature finally arrives on Google Meet

A new feature for Google Meet was recently revealed that’s bound to make meetings a bit more enjoyable: custom backgrounds. Just like Zoom, with Google Meet you can now set a background for calls that filter out your surroundings. Instead of sitting in your living room, you can be on the moon, underwater or even in a fantasy world.

Previously, the only option Meet offered to alter your background was a blur feature introduced in September. This new tool takes the same tech and gives you more room for customization. You can pick from several pre-made backgrounds or upload your own from your computer. Higher resolution images will look better and less pixelated.

Here’s how you can set it up for yourself on your next Google Meet call:

Before making a call

  1. Go to Google Meet and select a meeting.
  2. On the bottom right of your self view, click on Change Background.
  3. To select a pre-uploaded background, click on one from the menu.
  4. To upload your own image for your background, click Add.
  5. Click Join Now to start the call.

During a video call 

  1. On the bottom right, click More.
  2. Click Change background.
  3. To select a pre-uploaded background, click on one from the menu.
  4. To upload your own image for your background, click Add.

The feature is rolling out to users over the next week or so. If you don’t see it in your Google Meet window yet, it may have not reached your account.

Bonus: More new Google Meet features to try out

It’s not just custom backgrounds that are new in Google Meet. Here are some of our other favorite new features that Google added over the past few months:

  • Breakout rooms: Need to split into teams? Google Meet now lets users create separate Breakout Rooms that divide the call into smaller groups. It’s a great option for games, projects and other team-building activities. To use it, just click Activities in the top right followed by Breakout Rooms.
  • Create Polls and group questions: Need to get input on a project or task? Google Meet now lets users create polls or questions that everyone can participate in. Click the Activities button in the top right and select Start a poll to get started.
  • A collaborative drawing space: Dubbed Google Jamboards, Google Meet gives participants the ability to create a virtual whiteboard where everyone can draw and collaborate with each other. To set up a Jamboard, click the three-dot icon in the bottom-right and select Whiteboard. Click Start a new Whiteboard to open a drawing board for your call participants.
  • Noise cancellation: Filter out annoying background sounds with noise cancellation in Google Meet. Just click the three-dot icon followed by Settings. Then, click Audio and turn on Noise Cancelation to complete the setup.

As fun as these options are, the biggest question on everyone’s mind is security and privacy during calls. Thankfully, Google Meet and the other video chat platforms all have plenty of features to make your calls more secure.

Tap or click here to see how the biggest video chat apps stack up against one another.

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