In addition to group calls on the Nest Hub Max today, Google is previewing a number of upcoming Meet features for education and enterprise customers. This includes blurred and custom backgrounds, hand raising, and new moderation controls.

Update 7/21: During Productivity & Collaboration week at Next OnAir, Google previewed all the upcoming Meet features and provided early screenshots. They are all “launching soon.”

Original 6/25: Like Zoom and other popular video conferencing applications, Google Meet will soon let you blur your background or replace it entirely. Google will offer a number of defaults, and you’ll be able to upload your own, though admins can disable this functionality.

Besides being fun, Google frames it as a way to hide “surroundings you don’t want others to see,” while it will help “students and educators feel more comfortable while on video from their homes. Custom Google Meet backgrounds will be available in the “coming months.”

Google recently introduced a 16-person tile view and is now planning to add a UI that can fit up to 49 participants at once. Other features on the Meet road map include:

  • Hand raising: Increase participation in larger meetings by enabling participants to “raise their hands” when they have a question or something to say.
  • Meeting attendance: Give meeting hosts a simple way to see who attended their meeting.
  • Breakout rooms: Make it easy for large meetings to split into smaller groups, have parallel discussions, and reconvene once finished.
  • Q&A: Provide a channel for the audience to ask questions without disrupting the flow of the conversation.
  • Polling: Engage participants in large meetings with real-time polling.
  • Additional moderator controls: Give meeting hosts additional controls for muting, presenting, joining, and more.

Google did not specify today when these features will launch.

Google is also rolling out more moderation controls for teachers this year. Educators will be better able to control meeting requests through a “less intrusive” interface, and other behavior changes:

  • When someone asks to join a meeting (or “knocks”), they won’t be able to knock again after being ejected from a meeting, and a knock will no longer show up after a moderator rejects it twice.
  • Moderators will also be able to end the meeting for all participants, ensuring no students linger after the teacher has left.
  • And we’ll soon block anonymous attendees from joining any Education meetings by default, though schools will be able to opt in to allow anonymous participants.

Meanwhile, “Hey Google” voice control for Meet hardware kits will exit beta in the coming weeks and become generally available for Asus and Logitech devices. On the hardware front, Google is also adding a virtual whiteboard to Meet through Jamboard:

Integrating Jamboard into Meet makes it easy for those who are remote to participate in brainstorming activities, but it also lets workers who are returning to the office whiteboard right from their laptop or mobile device.

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Abner Li

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