As of today, there are 1.5 Million reported cases of the novel coronavirus in the world and the spread of this pandemic has prompted events, businesses and schools to shut down and so everyone turns to the internet to continue their daily lives which is of course Video chat.
During the beginning of the current lockdown in most major countries around the world, this had prompted an instant surge in the usage of the internet especially Google-owned services among which is the teleconferencing service which it calls the “Google Meet”.
As of Wednesday, the company announced an additional 2 million new users a day worldwide who have switched over to the service as a result of people trying to keep up with their friends and families as well as colleagues while they are at home.
With this growth, Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian made it known the service racked up some 2 billion minutes of video calls during March and that growth is climbing up by 60% every day saying the usage of the service is now 25 times more than it was back in January.
That shows how important teleconferencing is to our modern world because despite people being stuck in isolation, they’re able to see those people they care about as though they were near to one another which showed the importance of the service. With millions of people instructed to stay at home in the country, institutions, libraries, schools and other businesses which are deemed nonessential are all required to close down until they’re allowed to re-open.
And speaking of the sudden surge of the sue of Google Meet, this started on Saturdays according to Javier Soltero who is the head of the G-Suite. The surge according to him was surprising for a service which is tuned towards workplace and people who attend meetings so as to simplify the process.
“That’s a really strange thing to think about,” Soltero said in an interview last week over — what else? — Google Meet. “It’s used in happy hours, family time, DJ parties, etc.”
And so Google started offering the Premium version of it’s Meet platform for free to all G-Suite and G-Suite for Education subscribers. The high-end add-ons include the ability to hold larger meetings, with 250 participants, and to record and save meetings.
Aside Google Meet, other services which had gain momentum during this pandemic includes Zoom and others such as Facebook‘s Portal TV chat is said to have sold out already. Th urgent need for people to communicate is so essential and video communication seems to be the best alternative to real-life social interaction.
As of now Zoom, despite it’s security concerns has become really important to people. The service had gain some 10 million daily users in December now to more than 200 million daily users as of now that people needed to stay apart courtesy of COVID-19.
But the service has been plagued by data sharing issues, as well as “Zoombombing,” in which uninvited participants invade a video session. The drop-ins are sometimes coordinated attacks, filled with hate speech and harassment.
Soltero declined to comment on Zoom’s issues. “That’s a really strange thing to think about. It’s used in happy hours, family time, DJ parties, etc.”Javier Soltero, head of G Suite
Zoom might not be the only company to face security and privacy issues as Google too in the past had faced trust issues over it’s data collection and privacy handling. But most people still prefer Google somehow as Soltero would brag the company’s history of user data handling is exceptional and that’s what sets it apart from others.
“We’re not new to this part of the plan,” he said. In a blog post Tuesday, Google highlighted how it secures video calls, including its efforts to “combat abuse and block hijacking attempts.”
Google’s focus on the G-Suite to being a reputable business tool for communication for it’s clients is kept uptight and the company operates with more-stringent data policies. “The challenge for Google is the overall hangover of concerns that people have for privacy issues with search and other things,” said Bob O’Donnell, president of Technalysis Research. “Fairly or unfairly, that’s the reality.”
With the Stay-at-Home policy now placed upon inhabitants of most countries, pupils needs to continue with their education after all. The effect of the pandemic on education had also prompted the need for reliable G-Suite for Education with which pupils can interact with their tutors using their computers.
So the aims of the Google Classroom is to help both pupils and teachers stay ahead and manage their classes online. Last week, Google announced a partnership with California Gov. Gavin Newsom to donate 4,000 Chromebooks to students across the state.
Despite it’s much benefits, Google continues to face more backlashes as well as legal battles with individuals and other government bodies over it’s handling of users’ data and other vital information especially those pertaining to kids who were using the service mainly for learning purposes. During an interview with CNET, Soltero declined to comment on the New Mexico lawsuit. (In a follow-up email, Google also declined comment on the biometric lawsuit.)
But in response to the general criticism, Soltero said, “We stand by our commitment to the privacy of students.” When it comes to privacy controls for students, teachers and parents, he added, “My sense is that we’ve been doing the right set of things all along.”