Google is making the premium version of its workplace video chat tool free until the end of September, to help businesses and schools working remotely due to coronavirus

REUTERS/Brandon Wade/File PhotoSundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent company Alphabet.
  • Google is making the premium paid features in its Hangouts Meet video-conferencing features free until September 30, extended from the previous date of July 1, to help businesses and schools keep operating remotely as they’re impacted by the coronavirus.
  • Those 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.
  • Zoom, a leading competitor to Google’s chat tools, lifted time limits on its free product for users in China and made its product free for schools.
  • Analysts say that cloud software tools that help people stay connected could actually benefit from increased usage due to the coronavirus, as more people work remotely.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Google is giving everybody free access to its advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing features for free until September 30, to help businesses and schools that have been impacted by the coronavirus disease, COVID-19.

At the beginning of March, Google said it would make its premium Hangouts Meet features free until July 1. On Tuesday, that was extended to September 30. G Suite also now has over 6 million paying businesses as of March, up from 5 million in February 2019, the company told CNBC on Tuesday.

In a blog post, the company said “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.”

Hangouts is part of Google’s G Suite set of productivity tools, alongside Google Docs and Sheets. It also has an education focused version of its product and an enterprise version for large businesses called Hangouts Meet, in an paid enterprise version of G Suite. It’s that premium version that will be made free until the end of September.

Those 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.

This comes well after Zoom, a competitor to Google’s Hangouts Meet tool, lifted time limits on its free product for users in China and made the product free for schools.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many schools and offices have been closed. Tools like Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Cisco’s WebEx are being used to allow classes to continue remotely for students of all ages and grade levels. Zoom, for its part, has seen a tremendous spike in usage, even as it faces scrutiny over its security and privacy practices, going from 10 million daily active users in December to 200 million by the end of March.

“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,” Google said in a blog post in March.

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