With the onset of COVID-19 and the rising need for talking remotely, video chatting services have shot up in popularity. Google may have been slower to the party than Zoom, but it's planning to arrive fashionably late. As part of a focus on providing educational tools for stay-at-home students this semester, the company is revealing a timeline for the previously announced new features in Meet that will help virtual classrooms function more like the real thing.

Coming sometime in September, Meet will get a larger tiled view with a 7x7 grid that allows up to 49 participants on screen at the same time. Also launching in September is Jamboard functionality in Meet that allows for a more collaborative approach to the traditional whiteboard. So many virtual meetings are spent staring at blank faces, so it'll be cool to draw and ideate together instead.

Polling will be introduced later this year in G Suite Enterprise for Education

In October, users will be able to use custom or blurred, bokeh-style backgrounds on Meet. This will be great to hide those messy bedrooms from classmates or co-workers.

Two features are also launching this month, but only for G Suite Enterprise for Education. Breakout rooms will allow teachers to split classes into simultaneous small groups and attendance will be viewable to keep track of truants.

Later on in the year, Google will introduce virtual "hand-raising" during meetings to signal attention without interrupting and two more features limited to Enterprise for Education: Q&A capabilities that allow participants to type questions without breaking the flow of class, and polling to engage students to share their answers, thoughts, and opinions. Temporary recordings will be made available for all Education customers, too, which means premium recording options will be limited to G Suite Enterprise for Education members.

Many of these features are already live in competitors' products, so it's good to know that Google is aiming to roll out new additions sooner rather than later. Google Meet can be downloaded from the Play Store or directly from APK Mirror.

Google Meet
Google Meet
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free