22 April 2021
UPDATE (July 13th, 2021):
Google has now imposed a time deadline on Google Meet group video calls for free Gmail account users. The limit is for 60-minutes which is the maximum duration for each group video call. The free unlimited video calls were made available for users because of the ongoing pandemic and were extended twice. If the users wish to go beyond the limit, they will need to pay for the Workspace membership priced at $9.99 per month.
The official statement says:
"At 55 minutes, everyone gets a notification that the call is about to end. To extend the call, the host can upgrade their Google account. Otherwise, the call will end at 60 minutes."
As for individual one-on-one video calls, the time limit continues to be 24 hours. It is applicable to both individual and enterprise accounts. The same Workspace membership is needed if someone wishes to be free of the individual limit as well. However, it is available only in five countries: United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and coming soon to Australia.
UPDATE (March 31st, 2021):
Google has announced the extension of unlimited Google Meet video calls until June 2021 for free accounts. It was originally expected to enable the 1-hour limit on free accounts starting April but that is not the case anymore. The announcement was made through a tweet posted by Google Workspace. It should be noted that the overall limit will still be 24 hours but
Original (April 30th, 2020)
Google has announced that its video conferencing tool Google Meet is now free for everyone around the world. It was previously limited to enterprise and education sector users and only for paid G Suite account holders. The limitation has been lifted after seeing the demand for video conferencing during the COVID-19 pandemic which has led to the meteoric growth of its competitor Zoom.
The best part of the announcement is that Google has not cut down on any of the Meet features for making it free. All users will be able to use all the features including screen sharing, call scheduling, live captions, and newly added layouts. The only slight hurdle is that users will be required to have a Google account before they can join a meeting on the platform. This is opposite to what Zoom does where anyone can enter a meeting by simply visiting the URL.
Google says that the account requirement has been added due to privacy and security concerns. It adds that Meet meetings are safe and secure due to various steps taken by the team. The meeting codes are complex by default so that they can't be guessed easily by using the brute-force method. All video calls and their storage in Google Drive are encrypted to avoid unauthorized access.
Free Google Meet will be made available to everyone in a phased manner. It means some users will receive it earlier than others and if you want to know when you can use it, there is a Notify Me page to receive the update. It is worth noting that Google has plans to put a 60 minutes limit on video call durations starting September 2020 but for now, everyone can enjoy unlimited calling.