Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google has packed new functionality into Google Meet to compete with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and other video conferencing platforms.
After adding background blurring and virtual backgrounds to match Zoom's capabilities, Google Meet now has a unique differentiator in the form of augmented reality effects.
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The AR filters, which are available now for the mobile app on iOS and Android (except for Google Workspace accounts), run the gamut from cartoon character masks of cats, dogs, dragons, robots, and the like that completely obscure the users face and mimic facial movements, to effects that anchor 3D content to the subject's mug.
Google Meet's new AR filters are more or less the same as the effects available on Google Duo, lending credence to previous reports that Google plans to fold Duo into Google Meet as its sole consumer-facing video calling service.
The filters, which leverage the face filter functionality of ARCore, are limited to mobile. However, there's always Snap Camera for PC and Mac if you absolutely need to add AR effects from your desktop on your next conference call.
While the addition of AR effects to Meet gives Google a leg up on Zoom, elsewhere Google is just catching up. Snapchat and Facebook have vast libraries of AR effects available in video calling, while Apple has Animojis and Memojis on FaceTime. And now even Viber has AR Lenses courtesy of Snapchat.
So, welcome to the remote meetings augmented reality party, Google Meet! Better late than never.