Google Meet, Skype Meet Now and Facebook Messenger Rooms video meeting tools

Google, Microsoft and Facebook all announced changes or updates to their video meeting tools in April 2020.   These are alternatives to the popular Zoom video chat software.

Video meeting tool Google Meet is now available free of charge for all users.  This will be a gradual rollout within the next few weeks. Users must sign in with their Google account, but Meet works entirely in a web browser and does not require downloads first.

Skype Meet Now is a different video meeting tool which does not require a sign-up or installation.  A unique Meet Now link can be requested from Skype or a web browser.

Facebook has also announced its new meeting tool – Facebook Messenger Rooms. Invited attendees do not need a Facebook account to attend the video meeting and downloads are not required. Rooms is not end-to-end encrypted. This is in addition to their Facebook Workplace and Facebook Work Groups services.

Google Drive and Gmail free storage limited to 15 GB

Google accounts start with 15 GB of total storage spread across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos.   Once this limit is exceeded, users have the option of upgrading to a Google One plan.

You may check the total amount of storage currently used for your Google account at google.com/settings/storage.   Google also provides instructions on how to free up additional storage.

Google releases new accessibility apps Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier

Google has announced the release of accessibility apps Live Transcribe and Sound Amplifier to help users with hearing issues.

Live Transcribe transcribes live audio in real time using Google’s speech recognition technology.  This feature is installed on Pixel 3 smartphones under the Accessibility settings and will soon be available in a limited beta release to users worldwide via the Google Play Store.

Sound Amplifier amplifies microphone sounds while reducing unwanted or distracting background noises and is available now at Google Play.

Google expedites shutdown of Google+ consumer version

Google will move the shutdown date of the consumer version of its Google+ (Google Plus) social network from August 2019 to April 2019.  Google still plans to support Google+ for enterprise customers.

Update: Google+ will no longer be available for consumer (personal) accounts on April 2, 2019.  Google also provided instructions on downloading Google+ data and deleting a Google+ account.

This announcement was a follow-up to their October 2018 security notice on Google+.