Archives

google meet

Google Meet finally zooms in and lets you add video backgrounds

Google Meet finally zooms in and lets you add video backgrounds

Continuing a trend we’ve seen throughout the home-bound pandemic, Google Meet is about to add another Zoom-like feature to its video calls.

In a blog post, the company announced it will be adding the ability to replace your background with a video. While you won’t be able to use your own videos as backgrounds, Google will offer three options to begin with: a classroom, party, and forest, promising further additions down the track.

Google has allowed Meet users to add custom backgrounds to their video calls since October 2020, but this is the first time they’ve included video in this option (even though you’re unable to upload your own).  Read more…

More about Work From Home, Google Meet, Tech, and Work Life

Daily Crunch: Google Meet will get a new look and new features

Google announces upgrades to Google Meet, Amazon is bringing its palm scanner to Whole Foods and Microsoft looks at the effect of video calls on our brains. This is your Daily Crunch for April 21, 2021.

The big story: Google Meet will get a new look and new features

Google Meet is getting a number of updates, including a new user interface that should make the controls more visible (rather than hiding them in menus), the ability to pin multiple video feeds, autozoom (which will automatically place you in the center of the frame) and background replacement, starting with just a few scenes.

It sounds like these changes aren’t happening all at once, but will roll out gradually over the next few months. Google said the goal is to make online meetings “more immersive, inclusive and productive.”

The tech giants

Foxconn’s Wisconsin factory plans scaled back dramatically — The Taiwanese manufacturing giant is scaling back its investment from $10 billion to $672 million.

Amazon is bringing its Amazon One palm scanner to select Whole Foods as a payment option — That means Whole Foods customers could choose to scan their palm over the reader to pay for their purchases.

Instagram launches tools to filter out abusive DMs based on keywords and emojis — It will also allow users to proactively block people, even if they try to make contact from a new account.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Remote hiring startup Deel raises $156M at a $1.25B valuation after 20x growth in 2020 — Deel aims to allow businesses “to hire anyone, anywhere, in a compliant manner.”

Discount grocery startup Misfits Market raises $200M — This round moves the startup known for selling “ugly” fruits and vegetables into unicorn territory.

AppOmni raises $40M for tools to secure enterprise SaaS apps — The startup has built a platform to help monitor SaaS apps and their activity, provide guidance to warn or block when things might go wrong and fix problems when they do occur.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Four ways martech will shift in 2021 — First and foremost, differentiation is going to be imperative.

Micromobility’s next big business is software, not vehicles — The days of the shared, dockless micromobility model are numbered, at least according to Puneeth Meruva of Trucks Venture Capital.

Dear Sophie: How can I get my startup off the ground and visit the US? — The latest edition of Dear Sophie, the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

This is your brain on Zoom — Microsoft has done a little brain science and found out that yeah, constant video calls do increase your stress and brain noise.

New privacy bill would end law enforcement practice of buying data from brokers — A new bill known as the Fourth Amendment is Not for Sale Act would seal up a loophole that intelligence and law enforcement agencies use to obtain troves of sensitive and identifying information.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

A.I.-powered transcription service Otter.ai can now record from Google Meet

Otter.ai, the A.I.-powered voice transcription service which already integrates with Zoom for recording online meetings and webinars, is today bringing its service to Google Meet’s over 100 million users. However, in this case, Otter.ai will provide its live, interactive transcripts and video captions by way of a Chrome web browser extension.

Once installed, a “Live Notes” panel will launch directly in the Chrome web browser during Google Meet calls, where it appears on the side of the Google Meet interface. The panel can be moved around and scrolled through as the meeting is underway.

Here, users can view the live transcript of the online meeting, as it occurs. They can also adjust the text size, then save and share the audio transcripts when the meeting has wrapped.

The company says the feature helps businesses cut down on miscommunication, particularly for non-native English speakers who may have trouble understanding the spoken word. It also offers a more accessible way for engaging with live meeting content.

And because the transcriptions can be shared after the fact, people who missed the meeting can still be looped in to catch up — an increasing need in the remote work era of the pandemic, where home and parenting responsibilities can often distract users from their daily tasks.

The transcripts themselves can also be edited after the fact by adding images and highlights, and they can be searched by keywords, as with any Otter.ai transcription.

In addition, users can access the company’s Live Captions feature that supports custom vocabulary. Otter points out that there are other live captioning options already available for Google Meet, but the difference here is that Otter’s system creates a collaborative transcript when the meeting ends. Other systems, meanwhile, tend to just offer live captions during the meeting itself.

To use the new feature, Chrome users will need to install the Otter.ai Chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store, then sign in to their Otter.ai account. The new feature is available to all Otter.ai customers, including those on Basic, Pro and Business plans.

Otter in the past leveraged its earlier Zoom integration to push more users from free plans to paid tiers, and will likely do the same with the new Google Meet support. The company’s paid plans offer the ability to record more minutes per month, and include a range of additional features like the ability to import audio and video for transcription, a variety of export options, advanced search features, Dropbox sync, added security measures, and more.

The company has seen its business increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying shift to online meetings. Last April, Otter said it had transcribed over 25 million meetings, and its revenue run rated had doubled compared with the end of 2019.