Google announced in two blog posts today new ways for consumers to take advantage of smart display video screens by bringing group video features to the devices. Group calls over Zoom, Google Meet, and other videoconferencing services have become more commonplace since the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to shelter in their homes and restrict physical interaction with friends, family, and work colleagues. Smart displays would seem to be good solutions to the need for new forms of video connectivity but have been limited to one-on-one calls. The announcement today by Google adds group calls as a feature of smart displays.
Setting Up Group Video Calls for Google Smart Displays
Your smart display is set up in the Google Home app and is controlled by Google Assistant. However, you can’t set up your groups for video chats in either of these apps. Instead, you need to use the Google Duo app. After you create your group in Google Duo, you can then say, “Hey Google, make a group call” to activate the session on your smart display.
Google says you can host up to 32 people in a group video call. The announcement highlights Google’s Nest Hub Max smart display, but the new feature is also supported on the “LG XBOOM AI ThinQ WK9 Smart Display, BL Link View and Lenovo’s 8 inch and 10 inch Smart Displays.”
I created a group in Duo and could only get it to activate on a Pixel smartphone. My Lenovo smart display kept trying to show me search results. So, this feature may not be available on all devices just yet though presumably an OTA firmware update would bring this to the third-party smart displays.
Engage Up to 100 People Through Google Meet
For reasons that are not clear, there is a second option to connect via video chat through Google Meet. This feature supports up to 100 participants. To activate a meeting you say, “Hey Google, join my next meeting.” Google Assistant will then consult your calendar and pass your credentials to join the video call.
There is also an option to join a meeting that is not in your calendar. “Hey Google, join a meeting,” will bring up a dialog asking with option. Choose the “enter a meeting code” option. From there you can type (not speak) your meeting code in and be connected. This feature is only available on the Nest Hub Max smart display today and not the third-party devices.
Goolge also indicated that this is a beta program and requires G Suite administrators to enroll their domain into the G Suite with Google Assistant beta program. You can apply here.