Video chat has long been one of the chief selling points of smart screens like the Amazon Echo Show and Google’s Nest Hub Max (the regular Hub is still lacking a camera, mind). But until today, the latter only offered users the option for one-on-one calls. That’s all well and good for the most part, but as so many of us have found ourselves cut off from our friends and families, group chat has become something of a lifeline.
That’s meant big business for conferencing apps like Zoom. Once almost exclusively the domain of business meetings, these sorts of services have become increasingly popular for casual chats. Google has, no doubt, spotted potential, and today announced that it’s finally bringing group chats to the Hub Max through Duo.
The new feature allows for chats of up to 32 and utilizes the smart screen’s auto-framing capabilities (similar to those found in Facebook’s competing displays) to keep the subject in the picture. It also will be arriving on a number of third-party Google-ready smart screens, including those by LG, JBL and Lenovo. The feature requires the user to create a group on Duo through a connected mobile app. Once that’s done, it can be triggered via voice.
There’s a more professionally focused element to this as well. These companies have long explored the potential of smart screens in the workplace, but now that home is the office for so many, it makes sense to offer business meetings on these products. Those enrolled in the G Suite with Google Assistant beta program will be able to join business meetings through Google Meet.
That feature is rolling out in coming weeks.