After being invite-only and quietly releasing an iOS app in February 2017, Google formally launched Meet in March 2017. The service was unveiled as a video conferencing app for up to 30 participants, described as an enterprise-friendly version of Hangouts. It has launched with a web app, an Android app, and an iOS app.
While Google Meet introduced the above features to upgrade the original Hangouts application, some standard Hangouts features were deprecated, including viewing attendees and chat simultaneously. The number of video feeds allowed at one time was also reduced to 8 (while up to 4 feeds can be shown in the “tiles” layout), prioritizing those attendees who most recently used their microphone. Additionally, features such as the chatbox were changed to overlay the video feeds, rather than resizing the latter to fit. Hangouts is scheduled to cease operation in the first half of 2021.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the use of Meet grew by a factor of 30 between January and April 2020, with 100 million users a day accessing Meet, compared to 200 million daily uses for Zoom as of the last week of April 2020. Google suspended its usual 60-minute limit for unpaid accounts.