Updated: May 14, 2020
Google Meet and Zoom are two of the most popular online meeting applications on the market.
Zoom has always been available to everyone. Google Meet used to only be available to G Suite subscribers. On April 29, 2020 Javier Soltero, Vice President & GM of G Suite, posted that Google would be rolling out a Meet version that is free for everyone.
For the consumer version, attendees must have a free Google account or a G Suite account. For those who don’t have or don’t want a Gmail address, it is possible to create a Google account without Gmail.
Here’s Steve Dotto’s review of the consumer version of Google Meet. The consumer and business versions are almost identical. One difference is that the consumer version does not allow for recording a meeting.
The following is a head to head comparison of Google Meet and Zoom.
For business users, Meet is included in the price of G Suite. G Suite has three tiers of pricing. The Basic edition is $6 per user per month. A G Suite user is also a Google Meet host. The lowest priced domain through Google Domains is $12 per year.
For non-business users, there are currently no paid versions. After September 30, 2020, meetings will be limited to 60 minutes for the free version.
Zoom has a freemium pricing model. The free version caps meetings with more than one participant at 40 minutes. For meetings with multiple participants, the Pro version or higher is required. Pro costs $14.99 per month per host.
How each app runs
Google Meet does not have a locally installed desktop application—it only runs from a browser tab.
As such, Meet does not have control over Windows, macOS or Linux operating systems. The user experience on a Chromebook is the same as on a Windows computer, a Mac or a Linux computer. There is, however, an installed app for iOS and android.
A meeting can be launched from Google Calendar, Gmail or a browser tab. The URL for the latter is https://meet.google.com.
Zoom can be run from a browser tab. However, most users have the downloadable Zoom Client for Meetings installed locally, as the download process begins automatically when someone starts or joins their first meeting.
The local app gives Zoom control over host and participant computers. For example, there’s an option to “enable hardware acceleration for receiving videos.” There are also noise cancelling options which rely on local control.
One of the most popular interface features of Zoom is Gallery View, a.k.a. Brady Bunch view. This view displays up to 25 participants per screen by default. There’s an option to display up to 49 participants per screen.
On May 1, 2020, Google completed the rollout of a “tiled” layout that displays up to 16 call participants at once. Unfortunately, your own video does not display as one of the tiles—it’s a small thumbnail in the top right of the screen.
Zoom has a number of audio options, including the ability to test both the microphone and speaker.
Advanced audio options allow for suppressing background noise, such as an air conditioner. Intermittent background noises, such as chair movement and keyboard sounds can also be suppressed.
In contrast to Zoom, Google Meet’s audio options are basic. There is an option to test the selected speakers. Meet will warn a host or participant about the potential for audio feedback if the mic and speaker functions are using different devices.
Meet also has on-the-fly close captioning. There’s an option for near real time voice-to-text of participants’ words.
On April 22, 2020, Google announced that it will begin rolling out noise cancellation in the coming weeks to G Suite Enterprise and G Suite Enterprise for Education customers.
Among Zoom’s video options is the ability to scale down a wide angle camera’s aspect ratio to 4:3. Also, a user can decide whether or not to view a mirror image of themselves and their background.
A popular feature of Zoom is Virtual Background, which lets a host or participant to use an image or video file as a backdrop. This effect can be enhanced with a green screen. For older machines that do not meet hardware and software requirements, a green screen is required. Video files are not supported with older hardware/software combinations.
As is the case with audio, Meet’s video options are simple.
Both Zoom and Meet allow for sharing either a single application or sharing the entire desktop. A browser counts as an application. When a browser like Chrome or Firefox is shared, all tabs are visible. Here are a couple of differences on the topic of desktop sharing:
Zoom allows for sharing computer sound and content from a second camera. If the host shares a video clip, Zoom gives an option to optimize the clip for sharing. A shared screen can be annotated with a number of different tools.
Google Meet lets users display a specific tab on their Google Chrome browser, a more granular desktop sharing option than Zoom and others provide.
This feature allows video content along with audio to be seen and heard by all participants.
Zoom gives a host the ability to mute all participants with two clicks. When all participants are muted, there is an option to specify whether users can unmute themselves or not.
Meet does not yet allow for muting all participants. Adding this functionality is a popular request, especially among educators.
Zoom lists a wide variety of integrations and connectors in its app marketplace. The 19 categories of apps include CRM, marketing and even telehealth.
Meet has integration touch points with Google Calendar, Gmail and Chrome. Since the app is 100% browser-based, third parties like the publisher of Meet Enhancement Suite can develop add-on functionality in the form of a Chrome extension.
Google Meet vs Zoom: Security & Privacy
Zoom had been the subject of criticism for the app’s security holes and the company’s privacy policies.
This type of press put considerable public pressure on Zoom to fix security issues and address privacy concerns. Information about updates can be found on this release notes page. The April 21, 2020 release notes include, “Security enhancements -- Windows, macOS, Linux.” The April 27 release notes announced an upgrade of the installed app to the AES 256-bit GCM encryption standard. The same standard was added to the Web client on May 3, 2020.
Google Meet has end-to-end encryption along with a number of other security and privacy features. According to Google, the fact that meet runs entirely in the browser, “limits the attack surface for Meet and the need to push out frequent security patches on end-user machines.”
We have not been able to find any reports of Google Meet security issues or concerns.