Google is expanding the ways you can make video calls on smart screens powered by Google Assistant with new support for group calls on Google Meet and Duo. New video group calling capabilities will be available in Nest Hub Max and other smart Camera Assistant displays starting today.
Just as you can with individual calls, you can initiate a group call from a smart screen with your voice or by tapping the screen. Groups created in the Duo mobile app will be accessible on the smart screen and can support up to 32 people at a time. The smart display will show up to eight participants, including you, at once. If you’re using Nest Hub Max, the auto-framing features will continue to work so you can freely move around and focus on the camera in front of other callers.
Google Meet group call support is more designed for work meetings and other large groups. It supports up to 100 participants in a call, and you can join meetings by typing in the meeting code (after saying “Hi Google, join a meeting”) or using a calendar entry that syncs with the smart screen. If you start a new meeting from the smart screen, a push notification will be sent to your phone that you can use to share the invitation with others. Google says that the Meet integration is not yet compatible with Nest Hub Max’s auto-framing features, and that it won’t be available on other Smart Screens Assistant at launch.
For those who use G Suite accounts and have Meet meetings on those calendars, Google has an option for administrators to allow beta access to the Assistant on those accounts. The primary account on the device will need to be the G Suite account in order for you to open calendar entries. Google tells me that it is working on ways to make switching between a G Suite account and a personal account on a smart screen easier in the future.
Finally, the Assistant’s smart displays and speakers also get a new “speed dial” feature called home contacts that allows you to set preferred contacts for easier access. Once configured, it will allow anyone with access to the smart screen to call those contacts via voice or by tapping their name on the screen.
It is clear that Google prioritized the deployment of these features based on the number of video calls used during the COVID-19 pandemic and its related social distancing locks, and should facilitate the use of Google video call services if it has a screen. smart in your house. But like the Facebook Portal and the Amazon Echo Show, they are limited to Google services, and if you use Zoom or one of the many other video call options available now, they won’t be of much use to you, smart display or not. Hopefully Google will figure out a way to make other services available on smart displays in the future, but I’m not holding my breath.