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

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  • Google is making the premium paid features in its Hangouts Meet video-conferencing features free until 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.
  • This comes as Zoom, a leading competitor to Google’s chat tools, lifted time limits on its free product for users in China.
  • 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.

Google is giving everybody free access to its advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing features for free until July 1, as businesses and schools have been impacted by the coronavirus disease, COVID-19. 

Google announced the news in a blog post-Tuesday morning, saying that “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 Meet 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. It’s the features in those premium versions that will be made free until July.

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 as Zoom, a competitor to Google’s Hangouts Meet tool, lifted time limits on its free product for users in China. Zoom’s CEO Eric Yuan, who grew up in China’s Shandong Province, wrote in a blog post that he wanted to help those who are deeply impacted by the virus as it continues to disrupt daily affairs, from offices to classrooms.

As concerns over the coronavirus spread, more white-collar workers are working from home and in areas where schools have been closed, educators are struggling to keep students up to date. Google says they are seeing students and teachers in Hong Kong and Vietnam use Hangouts Meet and other classroom tools because schools are closed.

Analysts say that cloud software tools that help people stay connected could actually benefit from increased usage. 

Zoom has reportedly seen a large increase in usage since the spread of coronavirus began. Zoom has already brought in more new active users this year than last year due to coronavirus, Wall Street firm Bernstein Research estimates, according to CNBC.

“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. 

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