With the pandemic changing the way we work and socialize, video calling has been a crutch for many, which is why Google temporarily removed its one-hour time limit for its Google Meet service. The offer was due to end on the 31st of March, but in a surprise tweet, Google has stated that it will now be extended for three further months.
This isn't the first time Google has extended the unlimited trial, leaving some to ask if it could even live on beyond June.
We explain what you get with the Google free offer, and whether to upgrade to a paid plan.
Considering Google Meet for your business? See our full Google Meet Pricing guide, or check the table below for plan highlights:
Google Meet's Unlimited Trial
Most video call platforms offer a free tier with a time limit, and Google is no exception. Its one-hour cap is relatively generous compared to some competitors, and long enough for quick catchups and brief meetings. But, anything beyond that will see the participants cut off and having to reconnect. At least, that's the theory.
Google hasn't actually implemented the one-hour time limit yet, after making Google Meet available to anyone with a Google account last April (previously it was only available to enterprise and education customers).
The unlimited deal was originally intended to end in September 2020, before it was pushed back to March, and now, it's been moved yet again, to June.
It's good news for users in the pandemic who have come to rely on video calling for all aspects of life, from socializing to work, family functions and education.
Google Meet's unlimited trial was meant to end in September 2020, but was moved to March 2021, and now it's been pushed back again, to June 2021
Other Video Calling Services with Free Trials
Google isn't the only video conferencing platform in town to offer a free tier, but it may well be the most generous. We've seen others remove caps in the past for special occasions, but never for long.
Zoom, the platform that's so popular its name is basically now the catch-all term for video calling, lifted its limits for Thanksgiving, allowing users to celebrate with loved ones, although it quickly returned to its 40 minute cap.
Microsoft Teams – Has a free tier that is capped at 60 minutes, with a limited participant capacity of 100 people. The 24 hour meeting duration tiers start at $5 per user per month.
Zoom – Offers a free tier that is capped to 40 minutes. The next tier, Pro, gives a 30 hour meeting duration, for $14.99 per user per month. See our full Zoom Pricing guide for more
RingCentral Glip – A relative newcomer, RingCentral's Glip offers a very generous 24 hour meeting duration, for free, limited to 100 participants.
Skype – One of the original video call platforms, Skype has a free tier with a ‘fair use' policy, which allows for 4 hour video calls, with a usage limit of 100 hours a month.
Zoom Versus the World
There's no doubt that 2020 was the year of the pandemic. Don't take our word for it, the company's financial reports tell the whole story. The company is currently sitting pretty on a profit of almost $1 billion in 2020, compared to $100 million in the year previous.
While it's clearly good news for Zoom, its meteoric rise is also good news for us as users of video calling platforms. Zoom's growth caught many of the more well-established platforms off guard. As a result, we've seen a bitter battle of one-upmanship and new features across the other providers – by and large, it's the customer who wins.
Take Microsoft Teams for example. It has a packed roadmap of new features it will be adding, regularly responds to customer requests, and, as a result, it's platform is a lot stronger for it.
RingCentral's Glip platform only came into force in the last few months, but it's a strong offering right out of the gate, with its 24-hour meeting duration on the free tier very hard to beat.
Then there's Google Meet of course. Firstly, Google is making its service available to everyone with a Google account, and removing the one hour call cap. Are these moves being made out of some altruistic desire to connect the world in a pandemic? Possibly, but it's more likely that these services are fighting tooth and nail to gain attention and grab some market share with a new audience that has almost appeared overnight.
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