Google Meet to introduce an on-the-go mode for traveling meetings

Sometimes users need to walk around during a conference call and, understanding that reality, Google is currently working on a new mode for Google Meet called ‘On-the-Go.’ This mode transforms the video conferencing Android app’s UI into a much simpler one that’s better suited for traveling outside while on a call.

The concept behind this mode is to make walking while tuned into a Google Meet meeting much safer. It accomplishes this by creating a much more intuitive layout that, according to 9to5Google, “will disable your camera in the call and stop streaming video from other participants. You’ll also be greeted with a new layout with only a handful of large, easily-pressed buttons for Mute, Audio (to switch between Bluetooth, speaker, etc.), and Raise (your hand).”

You can check out screenshots showcasing how the new layout will look once enabled:

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on the go feature screenshot

(Image credit: 9to5Google)
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on the go feature screenshot

(Image credit: 9to5Google)
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on the go feature screenshot

(Image credit: 9to5Google)
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on the go feature screenshot

(Image credit: 9to5Google)
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on the go feature screenshot

(Image credit: 9to5Google)
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on the go feature screenshot

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

‘On-the-Go’ can be enabled in two ways: the first is by Google Meet detecting through your smartphone’s motion sensors that you’re walking, it will prompt you to switch to the new mode. And for the second method, you can manually enable the mode through the in-call menu.

Google currently hasn’t rolled out the feature to everyone just yet, but judging by the screenshots it’s most likely close to a public release.

Google Meet is getting even better 

Google has been working on making its video call application much more functional and intuitive to use. Both 2022 and 2023 have seen a host of changes to the UI, with 2023 introducing ones like added new features to the picture-in-picture mode, blocking video feeds from other meeting participants to more easily focus on the people you want, and using generative AI to create new backgrounds during meetings.

Back in 2022, Google added several other features like subject tracking to better focus on a participant, letting users mute and unmute themselves on the desktop version by using the spacebar, and automatically adjusting a participant’s mic input to avoid particularly massive discrepancies in volumes.

It’s good to see that the tech giant is trying to better its service, considering how many people rely on it for remote work. While these seem like minor improvements, quality-of-life changes to an application or service always add up in big ways and really help to enhance the user experience.

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Zoom will now let you live stream your boring old meetings to Twitch

If you're looking to liven up your next business Zoom meeting, the company has now revealed that users will be able to livestream video directly to popular online streaming platform Twitch.

In a blog post announcing a whole host of new upgrades and features, the video conferencing giant said that call hosts will now be able to livestream their meeting or webinar to Twitch directly, rather than manually configuring the stream as a custom livestreaming service.

Zoom says that the move will help its customers, “streamline the process of sharing content within their communities and extend their reach” although quite how interesting your weekly team catch-ups will be to a wider audience remains to be seen.

Zoom & Twitch

The feature is available to Zoom users everywhere now, but anyone looking to start a Twitch stream will need to have approval from the Zoom account owner or admin, which should help cut down on potential slip-ups.

Alongside the Twitch news, Zoom also announced users will soon be able to share computer audio and other content with breakout rooms.

This feature, which Zoom says will create, “a more cohesive experience for participants,”  can be enabled when the host begins to share content, or while sharing is in progress.

Livening up your video calls appears to be something of a trend for Zoom, which also recently announced new animated avatars. With choices ranging from cat to cow, raccoon, bunny, dog and more, the avatars not only replace the original video feed, but also mirror the user’s head movements and facial expressions courtesy of a few AI tricks.

Zoom has also given administrators the ability to configure  virtual backgrounds to reset to a chosen default after each meeting, reportedly to help avoid situations whereby sensitive data is exposed in a virtual background.

And when it comes to video, the company has also recently rolled out a feature that allows meeting hosts to add a video to the virtual waiting room. This video will play while participants wait to be allowed into the call, and admins can also now enable and disable the watermark feature in the middle of a meeting.

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Zoom update delivers a quick hack for more productive meetings

Zoom has announced a number of new updates and features for its video conferencing software that will help organizations be more productive and get the most out of their meetings.

According to a new blog post, hosts will now be able to schedule a meeting with Focus Mode set to start automatically. While this feature was originally designed with online learning in mind, it can also help large businesses with many employees stay on task during their meetings.

For those unfamiliar, Zoom's Focus Mode places meeting participants in a view where they can only see themselves, the host and or co-hosts and the content being shared. However, hosts and co-hosts can also choose to view participants in Gallery View which enables them to see everyone at once.

Speaking of Gallery View, Zoom has also added the ability to save a custom Gallery View order. Meeting hosts can now save a customized gallery order to each unique meeting ID which allows them to load the saved customized order before a meeting as opposed to having to manually change the order each time they're in a video call.

Video Mail

In addition to helping users have more productive meetings, Zoom has also announced a new update for its cloud phone system that will make it easier for colleagues to keep in touch.

While voicemail used to be the only option to leave someone a message when they didn't answer their phone, nowadays most people don't even check their voicemail. For this reason, Zoom has decided to provide its users with a more personable alternative to standard voicemail.

Zoom Phone users can now greet their colleagues with video greetings which allow them to leave video messages right from their voicemail inbox. You can check out this support document from Zoom to get started leaving video greetings or videomail for your colleagues.

While some users have returned to the office full time, other organizations have introduced hybrid work policies where some people are at the office and others are at home. With Zoom's new tools though, employees can stay connected with their teams regardless of whether they're working from home or are out in the field. 

Looking to improve your video calls? Check out our roundups of the best video conferencing softwarebest business webcams and best headsets for conference calls

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Google Calendar update will stop people clogging your day with needless meetings

Google is rolling out improvements for its calendar app that should help people better manage their busy schedules.

As described in a blog post, Google Calendar users will soon benefit from the ability to prevent unwanted invitations from being added to their calendar.

Under the updated system, users can choose for meetings and other events to be added to their calendar only after they have responded to the email invitation. The effect, says Google, is a less cluttered calendar interface and less time spent on administration.

The new Google Calendar feature should go live for all Workspace users (both business and personal) within the next two weeks.

Google Calendar invitations

Since the transition to remote and hybrid working, many more meetings have taken place over video conferencing and VoIP services. Managers have also been encouraged to check in more frequently with employees, in the absence of a quick chat or coffee break at the office.

All of this means a larger volume of meetings and more unwieldy calendars, which is somewhat of a nightmare for anyone who already spent more than their fair share of time in meetings before the pandemic.

With this latest update, however, Google Workspace users will be able to manage their calendars more effectively with less manual effort, as well as highlighting the events and meetings most important to them.

Of course, the ability to divert invitations doesn’t address endemic problems with meetings culture in this new world of hybrid working, but it will at least go some way to alleviating the symptoms.

To activate or deactivate the new feature, use the following pathway in the Google Calendar web app: Settings > Event settings > Add invitations to my calendar.

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