In an effort to slice off a larger piece of the video conferencing pie, Google has been dedicating a lot of resources to Meet lately. The service started showing up in Gmail last month (here's how to turn it off), and Google said that a bunch of new features would be coming later this year. Now it looks like two of those additions are showing up — one ahead of schedule.
By the end of this month, Meet will start rolling out new layout options for viewing more participants at once and the ability to blur the background of your own video feed. Up to 49 people can be seen at once with the tiled layout option, and Meet has also added the ability to see yourself as a tile on the call. This is only available on the web right now, and it isn't on by default.
These new viewing options will be appreciated, especially on crowded group calls.
The addition of background blur doesn't need much explaining: it gives your video an artsy, professional quality while also making it harder to notice that you haven't tidied your bedroom in two weeks. Unfortunately, the feature isn't making the leap to ChromeOS or the mobile apps yet due to processing requirements. You'll need a Windows or Mac device with four cores or more that supports Hyper-Threading.
Everything is better with bokeh.
The new layout options are rolling out right on schedule, but background blurring is landing a month earlier than Google's previous prediction of October. To be fair, you'll still need to wait a few weeks while the Meet team phases in these updates with the usual server-side rollout. And don't worry, the feature flow isn't stopping here; more new capabilities are slated to drop later this year.