A year after bringing unlimited Meet video calls to all, Google is restricting free Gmail users to just 60 minutes per group call.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Google made efforts to compete with Zoom and its growing popularity by expanding otherwise paid services to free accounts. Perhaps the most notable of these is Google Meet, giving everyone free access to video calls. The service appeals to a wider audience (not just work teams), and the ability to make free group video calls increased personal use.
For the last year or so, the duration of Meet calls – even for free Gmail users – has been virtually uncapped, only limited to a maximum of 24 hours. However, Google is now changing this by capping group video calls (3 participants and more) for free Gmail users to a maximum of 60 minutes. One-to-one video calls will remain uncapped as before.
To make group video calls on Meet that are longer than one hour, users will now need to pay a monthly subscription for Google Workspace Individual.
Meet’s support page states that calls with 3 or more participants are now limited to 60 minutes, and that “at 55 minutes, everyone gets a notification that the call is about to end. To extend the call, the host can upgrade their Google account. Otherwise, the call will end at 60 minutes.”
Of course, this change doesn’t come as a surprise. When Google expanded Meet to non-business use with “unlimited” group video calls last year, it also specified that the feature was only going to be available until September 30, 2020.
The company later pushed the deadline back to March of this year, and then once more to the end of June. Now, Google will charge for longer group calls, with a monthly subscription of $7.99, which will be increased to $9.99 per month, after January 2022.
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