Google Meet Companion Mode to Enable Hybrid Meetings

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Google Meet is getting a new ‘Companion Mode’ feature, through an update, that allows users to add remote members through an additional screen. The Companion Mode gives remote members all the advanced interactive features that the members present physically have access to. This move comes in a bid to make hybrid meetings equal for all members, when some are present in the office while others are working from home, or remote co-working spaces. The update will arrive for Google Meet on the Web first, followed by the mobile apps. Google also announced it is expanding the availability of background noise reduction to more users.

The upcoming Companion Mode for Google Meet was previewed at Google I/O event held in May 2021. More details about the new feature for the video conferencing app were revealed on a Google Cloud blog post. “Companion Mode gives every meeting participant, no matter where they are, access to interactive features and controls like screen sharing, polls, in-meeting chat, hand raise, Q&A, live captions, and more,” reads the blog post.

The blog post also details that “Colleagues who are in the same meeting room together will enable Companion Mode on their personal devices, giving them their own video tile in Meet and helping them to stay connected with their remote teammates.” As mentioned earlier, the Companion Mode will seamlessly connect members in the room with their colleagues who are joining in the meeting from a remote location. Companion Mode will be available on the Web and the upcoming progressive Web app in September, and it will be coming soon to mobile, Google added in the blog post.

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Additionally, members will also be able to RSVPs to meetings by selecting their joining locations as Yes, in a meeting room or Yes, joining virtually.

Google is also making Meet more secure and safe by allowing the admins to set the policies for who can join the meetings and how participants engage with each other within the meetings. The search giant will also “introduce moderation controls for hosts, giving them the ability to prevent the use of in-meeting chat and prohibit presenting during meetings, as well as allowing them full control to mute and prevent participants from unmuting.”

In a separate blog post for Workspace Updates, Google said it is rolling out background noise reduction in Google Meet to Workspace Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, and Enterprise Standard editions users. It will be turned on by default for these users, as well as Enterprise Plus users from August 9. The feature was first made available last year to only Enterprise Plus and Education Plus customers, before being expanded to more users.

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It’s Google I/O time this week on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, as we discuss Android 12, Wear OS, and more. Later (starting at 27:29), we jump over to Army of the Dead, Zack Snyder’s Netflix zombie heist movie. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.

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