While Zoom has largely taken over the video conferencing space, Google Meet (formerly Google Hangouts) offers some practical Google-specific features that make it an excellent video conferencing platform and Zoom alternative. Plus, Google is Google—we all know it isn't going anywhere.
So which of these video conferencing platforms is right for you? Based on my experience using both—including lots of new time spent with all the advanced features—I'll share each app's strengths and weaknesses. Read on for my breakdown of Google Meet vs. Zoom.
Google Meet vs. Zoom at a glance
Google Meet is best for small organizations and individuals who want a user-friendly video conferencing solution that's already integrated with Google Drive.
Zoom is preferable for larger organizations with stricter security expectations that need to accommodate more people and provide hosts with advanced controls.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Free plan available for individuals; paid Google Workspace plans available for organizations
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Free plan available for individuals; paid plans available for organizations
Business Plus: $25/user/month
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Anticipates user needs with video and mic check; minimalistic settings interface; only web-based
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Slightly more complex interface with a variety of advanced settings; includes a desktop app
Allotted group meeting time
1 hour with free plan; 24 hours with paid plans
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 40 minutes with free plan; 30 hours with paid plans
Video and background settings
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Slightly fewer options than Zoom; can be customized both before and during calls
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Several unique options that can be customized both before and during calls
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Saves the conversation logs of recorded meetings
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Can send private messages; emojis are built into chat natively
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Included; can set a time limit for breakout rooms and automatically shuffle them
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Included; can broadcast a message to all breakout rooms and allow participants to choose their own room
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Includes a built-in whiteboard feature; integrates with Miro for advanced whiteboard
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Includes a built-in whiteboard feature; integrates with Miro for advanced whiteboard
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Standard screen sharing (options for windows and tabs)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Advanced screen sharing (options for second cameras, other apps, whiteboards, and more)
Included; recordings saved to Google Drive
Included; recordings saved to local file on device
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Closed captioning and live transcription available and easily accessible
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Closed captioning and live transcription available; live transcription not yet supported on ChromeOS
⭐⭐⭐⭐ Encryption, two-factor authentication, and some host management features
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Encryption, two-factor authentication, and advanced host management features
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 200+ integrations, including Zapier
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 1,500+ integrations, including Zapier
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ User-friendly mobile app included; can launch polls and Q&A
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ User-friendly mobile app included; can view whiteboards
What's not different between Google Meet and Zoom
Google Meet and Zoom are more similar than they are different. Both platforms offer:
Both paid and free plans
Chat, breakout room, poll, and whiteboard features
Several background and video features and settings
Screen sharing and recording capabilities
A ton of app integrations
Advanced security measures
Google Meet is slightly more user-friendly than Zoom at the expense of some advanced features
As is Google's specialty, Google Meet aims to make the user's experience as pleasant as possible. As a Gmail user, starting a meeting was easy since there's an option to navigate to Google Meet on Gmail's Google Workspace (formerly Google Suite) toolbar.
When I started a meeting, the platform recognized that my surroundings were relatively dark and offered to brighten my video before I entered the call. It also prompted me to test my audio and video in advance, capturing and playing back a quick video to ensure I liked the way I sounded and looked—and reminding me to put some product in my hair.
With Zoom, I usually start a separate meeting to confirm I look presentable before joining the real one, so I found this pre-meeting checkup to be pretty handy. The win goes to Google for anticipating users' important (though sometimes petty) needs.
While both platforms enable closed captioning and live transcription, Google Meet makes this feature easily accessible—you can turn it off and on with the click of a button on your main control panel. I tested it out and found it to be very accurate, even using commas appropriately based on my tone and pacing.
I also found Google Meet's settings interface to be simpler than Zoom's. I was greeted with a few simple categories and options, compared to Zoom's dense menu of options. Here's Google Meet's general settings interface:
And here's Zoom's:
While they may feel overwhelming and complex at first, Zoom's numerous settings are appropriate considering the platform's advanced features. For example, Zoom allows you to connect an additional camera to your meeting and even share that camera's view when you share your screen. You can also share a mobile device's screen, a portion of your screen, or content from another application.
Google Meet, on the other hand, only allows you to share your full screen, a browser window, or a browser tab.
Zoom also offers some fun and unique features, such as emoji reactions, far more keyboard shortcuts, and even an option for you to "touch up" your appearance for days when you roll out of bed and into a meeting. Plus, with over 1,500 integrations, it'd be hard to find something that Zoom can't do with a little support from a third party.
Google Meet and Zoom both have solid chat features, yet they miss out on opportunities
While Google Meet and Zoom obviously specialize in video conferencing, they also offer chat functionality. That said, both platforms fail to meet some popular user wants and needs with their chat features.
One of Zoom's chat selling points is the ability to send private messages to individuals during meetings. With Google Meet, you can only send messages that everyone in the call can see—no secrets or gossiping allowed. Zoom also makes it easy to add emojis to your messages. Open the chat window, and you'll see a button that takes you to a complete emoji library—a feature that's only available with Google Meet extensions.
Both apps allow you to save the conversation logs of recorded meetings. This means if you miss a meeting and want to watch the recording later, you'll also have the chat logs to follow along with.
Despite their strengths, there are a couple of popular chat features that neither video conferencing solution supports. For example, neither platform supports GIFs natively. Granted, this feature isn't essential, but we're living in the 2020s—GIFs are practically their own language.
On the more practical side, when a new user joins a Zoom or Google Meet call, they can't see any of the chats that were sent before they joined. Likewise, if a user leaves then rejoins the call, any messages that were sent before they left disappear. I couldn't tell you how many times I've been in a meeting where a host has had to resend links for users who joined late.
Both platforms are highly secure, but Zoom beats out Google Meet due to advanced host management features
If you remember the early days of the pandemic when strangers were hopping into private conference calls and dropping the F-bomb (or worse), you understand the need for video conferencing security.
Both Google Meet and Zoom do a great job here, offering real-time encryption and two-factor authentication. Google Meet also encrypts recorded meetings stored in its users' Drive accounts. After "Zoombombing" became a newsworthy problem, Zoom also began offering all of its users end-to-end encryption (E2EE)—a feature it had previously only offered paid accounts.
While both platforms take security seriously, Zoom provides hosts with advanced meeting management features that take this commitment to the next level. For example, Zoom hosts can password protect, set up authentication profile restrictions, and add waiting rooms to their calls. With waiting rooms, the host has to accept each user before they're allowed into the call.
Plus, Zoom gives hosts a lot of in-meeting capabilities, like muting the audio or disabling the video of individual participants. It even has a feature called "Suspend Participant Activities," which turns off all video, audio, chat, screen sharing, recording, and more. It's the emergency shutdown you need when things really get out of hand (hopefully not too often).
These added security features make sense for Zoom since it accommodates up to 1,000 participants per call, compared to Google Meet's 250—there's a lot more room for things to go south when dealing with a huge number of people.
Zoom offers desktop apps, while Google Meet is entirely web-based
Much like Google's other set of web-based tools, Google Meet sessions open as browser windows—there's no desktop app interface. Meanwhile, Zoom offers desktop apps for Windows, macOS, and Linux that users can use to launch and join meetings.
Whether you want your video conferencing solution to come with its own app is up to you. Personally, I'm a big fan of Zoom's app interface. When I have a million browser tabs open, the last thing I need is my video call getting lost among them.
Plus, I found a pretty amusing glitch when sharing my screen on Google Meet: the infinity mirror. Whenever I clicked on the tab I was using to run my meeting, the screen sharing feature would capture an infinite tunnel of browsers and share it with my meeting guests.
To avoid feeling like I was trapped in an old sci-fi movie, I'd have to avoid clicking on the tab I was using to host my meeting. With Zoom's desktop app, this isn't an issue because the app minimizes and removes Zoom features from other users' views when screen sharing (though, depending on the placement, it can create a little gray bar over your screen share).
Google Meet vs. Zoom FAQ
Google Meet and Zoom function very similarly, but in which contexts does each stand out?
Is Zoom or Google Meet better for students?
Zoom meetings can host significantly more people than Google Meet meetings. Plus, Zoom offers a suite of tools that make remote learning easier for educational institutions under its Zoom for Education plans. For this reason, Zoom is typically preferred over Google Meet for students and teachers.
Which software is better for team meetings and 1:1s?
Either option works great! As long as your team contains fewer than 250 people, your choice between Zoom and Google Meet may depend on the other tools that your organization uses. If you use Google Workspace tools religiously, then Google Meet's seamless integration with these tools might be a nice draw.
Is Google Meet or Zoom better for interviews?
Both Google Meet and Zoom are frequently used for interviews. Google Meet is arguably a bit more user-friendly, but Zoom's expansive host management options (like its waiting room feature) do a great job of keeping unwanted parties out mid-interview. This feature especially comes in handy when you use the same meeting link for back-to-back interviews.
Google Meet vs. Zoom: Which is best for you?
It isn't easy to declare a winner in the Google Meet vs. Zoom face-off—there aren't all that many striking differences between them. Generally speaking, Zoom is best for larger organizations and educational institutions due to its high participant capacity, advanced sharing and presentation features, and host management tools. Google Meet works for anyone, but is preferable if you need a simple, user-friendly, and accessible conferencing solution for smaller groups.
With Zapier, you can integrate either solution with your other favorite apps, allowing every platform you use to communicate seamlessly.
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