Google made unlimited Meet group video calls free when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, but the company never intended this feature to remain available for everyone. The business originally wanted to introduce a long-planned 60-minute limit for free accounts in March this year, but then extended the deadline to June 2021. And well, there’s no further delay: June has come and gone, and so have free unlimited calls for everyone.
As confirmed by 9to5Google, group calls started by free Gmail users with three or more participants can now only last a maximum of 60 minutes. Google has updated the associated help page, detailing that every participant will get a notification 55 minutes in, warning them that the call will disconnect shortly. One-on-one calls retain their old 24-hour limit, though. If you regularly hit the limit, Google encourages you to upgrade to the Workspace Individual plan, which starts at $9.99 a month. Note that only the host needs to upgrade to benefit from longer calls; it doesn’t matter if participants are paying customers or not.
Depending on who and how many people at once you usually call, Google’s own Duo app might be a fine alternative going forward. The app allows for video calls with up to 32 participants, is completely free to use, comes with fun filters, and works on Chrome, iOS, and Android. It may not have the same professional look that Meet exhibits, but let’s be honest — you’re probably much more likely to call friends and family for more than an hour. A work meeting scheduled to last longer than 60 minutes sounds dreadful. Let’s just hope that Google doesn’t end up folding Duo into Meet, as rumored last year.