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What Google Workspace Admins need to know about Google Meet updates – May 2021

This quick yet comprehensive article helps small business Google Workspace admins learn all they need to know about the May 2021 Google Meet updates including what they need to do as an administrator and the effect it will have on their end users.

From 3rd May 2021, Google Workspace users are going to see some changes to Google Meet on their desktop/laptop relating to video feeds, viewing and presenting, and the bottom bar buttons.

These changes will roll out from 3 May for Rapid Release domains and from 17 May for Schedule Release domains. Both rollouts will take up to 15 days, so if you / your end users aren’t seeing the changes by 14 May / 28 May respectively, chat to Google Support. 

What does this Google Workspace update help small business owners with? 

This update is designed to give users a better experience when using Google Meet as either a presenter or attendee. From my perspective this is going to make Google Meet an even more compelling choice for video conferencing (and really, given it’s thrown in for free with your Google Workspace subscription why not use it?)

Is it designed for the End User or the Administrator?

This update is definitely designed for the end user. There’s no need for any administrator action, unless your Google Workspace users are using Google Meet Chrome extensions (including the Grid View extension). According to Google’s update notes these may interfere with the updates and should be turned off.

There’s also no actions required by the end user, though they will see a banner before joining a call that says “Meet has a new look” when this updated user interface is enabled for them.

So what are the changes in this Google Meet update?

  • Hover over your video feed for options between a tile in the grid or a floating picture. You can also resize, reposition, and hide it to concentrate on the call.
  • Your self-view appears in the bottom right of the grid to put more video feeds at eye-level as you look into the camera.
  • See what you are presenting while in Google Meet.
  • Unpin the content you or others share to see more and larger video feeds.
  • Participant names are always visible regardless of meeting size.
  • Meeting dial-in codes, attachments, the participants list, chat, and other activities are at the bottom right to create more vertical space for seeing people and content.
  • Controls are consolidated in one place with descriptions available upon hover.
  • Leave call button is moved away from the microphone and camera buttons to prevent accidental call hang-ups.
  • Bottom bar is always visible, while not covering cover captions and bottom video feeds.

Other visual updates include

  • When someone speaks, their tile is outlined in blue.
  • Mute indicators are subdued to reduce visual distraction.
  • When there are more participants than can be shown on the grid, a tile is added so you always remember who’s on the call.

Additional thoughts

So my absolute favourite thing about this update is the ability to hide one’s own video. There’s plenty of research out there now about how unnatural it is to be looking at oneself during video calls and how that’s contributing to our video call fatigue.

Credit: Google

Removing this particular tile might not make that Friday afternoon meeting any better but it might make it just a little bit less exhausting.

I’m also thrilled about being able to see other attendees when I’m presenting. This has been on my wish list for ages and it’s great to see it is finally being rolled out.

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