Google Meet takes its first step towards the metaverse

Google Meet
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google is set to push out an update for video conferencing platform Meet that expands upon the popular virtual backgrounds feature.

In a new blog post, the company unveiled a collection of “immersive backgrounds”, which feature subtle animations that add an additional level of realism. These virtual backgrounds also come with a range of different seasonal effects (snow, rain etc.).

Separately, Google Meet users will receive a number of new Instagram-esque lighting and color filters, which can be applied to regular static backgrounds to further customize their appearance.

These new additions can both be accessed either before or during a call via the new Effects settings panel, located under the three-dot menu.

The new backgrounds and visual effects are already rolling out to members of the Google Workspace Rapid Release track, who have opted to receive all new features as early as possible. All other users will begin to gain access from early December onwards.

Google Meet

(Image credit: Google)

Google Meet

(Image credit: Google)

Google Meet backgrounds

Virtual backgrounds have become a popular tool during the pandemic, providing remote workers with a way to obscure their disorderly home offices or bomb-site bedrooms, and otherwise giving people a fun feature to mess with on personal calls.

Not all virtual backgrounds are created equal, however. And since the trend began, all major video conferencing platforms (Meet, Zoom, Microsoft Teams etc.) have looked for ways to make their background features more convincing.

If Meta (née Facebook) and Microsoft are to be believed, virtual backgrounds are only the primitive precursor to far more immersive virtual meeting environments. In the metaverse, they predict, meetings will be conducted via virtual reality headsets instead of over webcam, with attendees appearing in avatar form.

In the meantime, though, by introducing an additional layer of gloss and customization, Google is hoping to make its virtual background feature at least a little more effective. And ahead of work Christmas party season, the timing is ideal.

The new backgrounds and visual effects for Meet also come hot on the heels of an expansion to the attendee limit. As announced earlier this week, Google Meet will now support meetings with up to 500 participants at once, and live streams with up to 100,000 simultaneous viewers.

In conjunction, the two new updates could make for quite the meeting experience.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.