Google Meet plays catch up with Zoom -- custom backgrounds (and more) are coming

Google Meet
(Image credit: Google)

Google Meet is playing catch up with its competitors with a plan to release a host of new features, including some Zoom-like perks such as custom backgrounds and a 49-person tile-view mode, MacRumors reported.

Google's video-conferencing platform Meet is facing stiff rivalry as demand for work-from-home solutions skyrockets with our coronavirus-stricken workforce. As a result, the search-engine giant has no choice but to launch eye-catching improvements to capture a greater share of the remote-work market.

What new features are Google Meet introducing?

Google Meet is introducing new features that may be familiar to Zoom users, including flexibility with changing one's background. Meet is launching background blur and background replacement -- the former will allow you to obscure the environment behind you while the latter will give you freedom to customize your background with an image of your choice.

Google Meet users will have the option to use a Google Meet-provided background or they can upload their own.

Zoom's background replacement feature has increased the platform's visibility as users posted viral memes, photos and videos of hilarious -- and oftentimes inappropriate -- custom backgrounds. So there's a good chance that Google is following Zoom's footsteps to partake in the social media buzz, too.

But don't worry, if you're worried about disruptive background antics, Google Meet will give hosts the option to disable custom backgrounds.

Other new features that Google plans to launch on its Meet platform, according to 9to5Google, include:

Hand-raising option: Participants have the ability to "raise their hands" when they have a question or a comment, which is particularly useful in virtual classrooms.

Attendance: Meet will give hosts an easy way to check who is present on the call.

Breakout rooms: Splitting large meetings into smaller groups will be streamlined with this option.

Q&A: Through this channel, participants can ask questions without interrupting the host.

Polls: Hosts can survey participants with real-time polling.

Tile view for up to 49 participants: Meet will implement a tile-view mode for up to 49 participants (in the last update, tile-view mode was available for up to 16 participants).

Google didn't specify when these new features will roll out for all users, but according to 9to5Google, Meet is previewing some of its upcoming perks with enterprise and education customers.

Kimberly Gedeon

Kimberly Gedeon, holding a Master's degree in International Journalism, launched her career as a journalist for MadameNoire's business beat in 2013. She loved translating stuffy stories about the economy, personal finance and investing into digestible, easy-to-understand, entertaining stories for young women of color. During her time on the business beat, she discovered her passion for tech as she dove into articles about tech entrepreneurship, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the latest tablets. After eight years of freelancing, dabbling in a myriad of beats, she's finally found a home at Laptop Mag that accepts her as the crypto-addicted, virtual reality-loving, investing-focused, tech-fascinated nerd she is. Woot!