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Google Meet goes free to take on Zoom and Houseparty − and it’s talking up its security credentials

Google Meet will soon be free to use. The video chatting app was previously only available to paying business customers, but from May 4 anyone will be able to try it out.

The move has almost certainly been triggered by the meteoric rise in popularity of Zoom and Houseparty, but Google is trying to differentiate Meet from those two by talking up its security features and privacy credentials.

Related: Zoom vs Google Meet

“We’ve invested years in making Meet a secure and reliable video conferencing solution that’s trusted by schools, governments and enterprises around the world,” Google wrote in a blog post.

In order to use Google Meet, you need to have a Google account. If you’re not already a Gmail user, setting one up doesn’t take long.

You can start or join Google Meet calls on the web at meet.google.com, via the Google Meet apps for iOS and Android, or through Google Calendar.

Initially, free meetings will have a 24-hour time limit, but this will change on October 1, when a 60-minute limit will come into force. Each meeting can hold up to 100 participants.

Houseparty doesn’t say what its limits are, but Google Meet compares favourably with Zoom, which also has a 100-person capacity, but imposes a 40-minute limit on free video calls.

Related: How to delete your Houseparty account

“Meet is designed, built and operated to be secure at scale. With this growth comes great responsibility. Privacy and security are paramount, no matter if it’s a doctor sharing confidential health information with a patient, a financial advisor hosting a client meeting, or people virtually connecting with each other for graduations, holidays and happy hours,” Google blog post says.

“Our approach to security is simple: make products safe by default. Meet is a great example of this ethos. We designed Meet to operate on a secure foundation, providing the protections needed to keep our users safe, their data secure, and their information private.”

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