Google Meet has now caught up with other videoconferencing and collaboration platforms with the company’s rollout of custom virtual backgrounds for video calls.
Google in a Friday blog post announced the feature, which allows users to either select one of Google’s hand-picked backgrounds or upload their own image. Google’s backgrounds include office spaces, landscapes and abstract backgrounds.
Other platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex and others already offer the virtual background feature, but Google has been a bit behind its competitors as the company rebrands G Suite to Google Workspace and introduces new features to enhance the videoconferencing experience in Meet.
According to Google, virtual backgrounds will work directly within a user’s browser and don’t require extension or additional software.
At launch, the feature will work on ChromeOS and on the Chrome browser for Windows and Mac desktops. Support for the Meet mobile apps will be coming shortly.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began a shift to remote work and usage of platforms like Google Meet skyrocketed, Google has released several new features for the platform to accommodate remote workers, including an intelligent background noise filter and the ability to blur backgrounds.
“Together, these features reduce audio and visual distractions and help ensure more productive meetings,” according to the company.
To start, there will be no admin controls for the feature, but controls will be added later this year so admins can select which organizational units can use virtual backgrounds.
Virtual backgrounds will be available for Google Workspace users with the following accounts: Essentials, Business Starter, Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, Enterprise for Education and Nonprofits and users with personal Google accounts.
Selecting a custom background isn’t available for meeting participants in meetings organized by Education customers.
The rollout for eligible devices began Oct. 30 and will continue through next week.