Zoom and Google Meet (formerly known as Google Hangouts) are two of the most common video conferencing apps in the world of remote-hybrid work. Which leaves a lot of people to wonder: Is one better than the other? Does it really make a difference which one I use for online meetings?
We’ll answer that question here by comparing Google Meet and Zoom’s pricing, plans, core features, and extras. Plus: an alternative you might not have considered!
Google Meet vs. Zoom: Major differences
Google Meet’s free plan allows unlimited one-on-ones, with groups of three or more capped to 60 minutes of meeting time. Zoom’s free plan comes with a 40-minute time limit on all meetings, including one-on-ones.
You need to download software to use Zoom, whereas you can access Google Meet through your web browser.
People prefer screen-sharing on Zoom because of its higher resolution (1080p versus 720p) and built-in annotation feature.
Zoom offers end-to-end encryption for all meetings, whereas Google Meet will offer E2EE near the end of 2022.
Zoom offers transcription for $20/month/host, but you can’t get transcriptions with Google Meet without a separate add-on.
Zoom lets you private message a specific participant, but Google Meet doesn’t have private chat.
Zoom lets people raise their hand during meetings for free, but you’ll need to pay $12 to do that in Google Meet.
Zoom has emoji reactions; Google Meet doesn’t.
Google Meet is readily available for all G suite users, giving those users another tool in their workspace arsenal (alongside Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Sheets, and other Google apps). It also means you can use Google Meet with a MicrosoftOutlook email.
Google Meet vs. Zoom: The basics
Google Meet and Zoom both have free plans that give you access to a core set of video conferencing services. Where free plans limit you is in meeting time and number of participants (though both go to 100 participants on the free plan, which is usually plenty).
Zoom pricing & plans
Zoom Basic - Free - Up to 100 participants - 40 minute time limit
Zoom Pro - $15/host/month - Up to 100 participants - 30 hour time limit
Zoom Business - $20/host/month - Up to 300 participants - 30 hour time limit
Zoom Business Plus - $25/host/month - Up to 300 participants - 30 hour time limit
*Zoom also has a Large Meetings add-on that allows organizations to increase their participant limit to 1,000.
Google Meet pricing & plans
Google Meet - Free - Up to 100 participants - 1 hour time limit
Google Workspace Individual - Up to 100 participants - 24hour time limit
Google Workspace Enterprise - Up to 500 participants - 24 hour time limit
A main difference between Google Meet and Zoom is that you can access Google Meet through your browser, whereas you need to download software to use Zoom.
You can open Google Meet using any browser. Zoom software supports Windows, Mac, iOS/iPad OS, and Android.
You’ll need a Google account to host on Google Meet and to join meetings, whereas Zoom doesn’t require an account to join a meeting (only to host).
Both tools have mobile apps you can use with limited features.
Google Meet and Zoom interfaces aren’t markedly different. Where they may differ is in minimalism — Google Meet’s bottom toolbar uses icons, whereas Zoom’s bottom toolbar may seem bulkier with added text descriptors.
When you join a larger meeting on Google Meet, you’ll see a gallery view of tiles showing all participants. You can increase the number of tiles on your screen to a maximum of 49 by clicking on the three dots in your bottom toolbar > Change layout.
Zoom’s preferences are a little less nimble. Zoom’s gallery view lets you view either 25 or 49 participants on one screen, with nothing in between.
Both Zoom and Meet allow you to use virtual backgrounds.
Host controls are important for creating a safe, secure meeting experience. Both Google Meet and Zoom let hosts:
Control unmuting permissions
Determine who can access the chat and Q&A boxes
Assign screen-sharing privileges
Enable closed captioning
Enable breakout rooms during meetings
Enable waiting rooms to prevent participants from joining a meeting too early
Record and/or livestream meetings
Remove one or more participants
Screen sharing is available and easy to access on both Google Meet and Zoom. Where they differ the most is in quality and annotation functionality.
Google Meet’s screen sharing resolution allows for a maximum of 720p, whereas Zoom’s default screen sharing resolution is 1080p (high definition). That’s why you might hear people say they prefer screen sharing with Zoom over Google Meet.
Another big difference is with annotation. To annotate on a screen-share in Zoom, all you need to do is enable a setting. In Google Meet, however, you’ll need a separate Chrome extension to annotate and draw on shared screens.
Zoom doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to security. In November 2020, the Federal Trade Commission announced a settlement with Zoom after they discovered the company had been lying about providing end-to-end encryption security since 2016. Zoom now does provide E2EE security, but they’re still working on fortifying their software against cyberattacks (and Zoombombing).
Google Meet doesn’t yet provide end-to-end encryption, but they announced that the option will be available for all meetings closer to the end of 2022. As of now, all Google Meet data is encrypted in transit, which adheres to IETF security standards.
But if end-to-end encryption is a must for you, Zoom is what you’ll want to use until Google Meet catches up.
Google Meet vs. Zoom: Features
The features that matter most for video conferencing software are the ones that help you work better as a team. Here, we’ve focused on features that will help you collaborate more effectively in a remote work environment, using either Zoom or Google Meet.
Google Meet and Zoom let you record your meetings so you can share them with other participants and refer back to them later. But only the free version of Zoom lets you record meetings and that’s only locally (you can’t record them to the cloud). You have to pay for Google Workspace to enable recording on Google Meet.
When you record a meeting as a paid user in Google Meet, recordings are saved as an MP4 to the organizer’s Meet Recordings folder in their Google Drive. When the video is processed, the organizer gets an email with the link, which is added to the Google Calendar event.
When you record a meeting in Zoom as a paid user (Pro to Enterprise), recordings are saved as an MP4 in Zoom’s cloud storage after some processing time. When you record a meeting in Zoom as a free user, you can only save the recording locally to your device.
In both tools, there’s a wait time to process recordings and it can be a little clunky to find, share, and manage them. And in both tools, only the meeting host can record the meeting.
Transcription and closed captioning
Google Meet and Zoom both offer closed captioning as part of their free versions. But only Zoom offers English-only, voice-to-text transcription as part of their Business plan for $20/month/host.
You’ll need an add-on to get any transcription from Google Meet, like Otter.ai or Fireflies. Having an add-on means you’ll need to invite a “ghost participant” to your meetings, and it usually means you need to pay to get unlimited transcription and other functionality (e.g. search).
Transcription tip: Look for software (like Vowel's!) that can transcribe your group meetings in real-time. When all participants can see the transcription, they’ll be less focused on taking notes and more focused on being present for the meeting.
You can set up collaborative whiteboards on both Google Meet and Zoom, but they function differently.
In Google Meet, when you click the three dots at the bottom of the screen, you’ll be invited to start a Jamboard, Google Workspaces’ whiteboard app. Participants in the meeting will receive a link to the whiteboard so they can participate through the app, not as part of Google Meet.
You can launch a Zoom whiteboard from within the app (free users get three whiteboards total). When you click Share Screen, you’ll see an option to share a blank whiteboard. Once you launch the whiteboard, you can control who can contribute through your security options as a host.
One of the most notable differences between Google Meet and Zoom is that you can’t send a private message on Google Meet.
Whereas Zoom allows you to message a specific participant, you’ll have to send your message to the entire group on Google Meet. So if you’re using Google Meet, that means no side conversations during meetings!
And you may be wondering, what happens to my chat after a meeting is over?
In Zoom, you have to be a licensed user with cloud recording enabled to save your meeting chats — they’ll save as files in the same place your MP4 recording is saved.
In Google Meet, all chat messages disappear when you leave the video call unless you have turned on call recording (on a paid plan). Then the workspace admin can choose to auto-save chats for all recorded meetings.
Tip: It’s not easy to find something from a chat after a meeting is over (and if you’re on a free plan of Zoom or Meet, it will disappear). This makes it best to save links or other important notes from your meeting chat in another location (or Slack).
Personal meeting rooms
Zoom’s Personal Meeting ID (room) is a favorite feature of regular users. A Personal Meeting Room is a virtual meeting room reserved for you at all times and accessible through a personal, fixed link. People mostly use their Personal Meeting Rooms to meet with people they talk to regularly, like members of their team.
Google Meet doesn’t have the option to set up personal rooms. New meeting links are always generated when a meeting is scheduled through Google Calendar. The closest Google Meet comes to a personal meeting link is through recurring meetings, which use the same link for all scheduled meeting events.
Both Zoom and Google Meet mobile apps do a good job of transferring the meeting experience to your phone. The most notable difference is that you can still use whiteboards on Zoom’s mobile app, whereas the experience is clunky on Google Meet because of its requirement to use Jamboard.
Hand-raising + emojis
For a long time, Google Meet didn’t have the same hand-raising and emoji features as Zoom. This will change later in 2022 when Google Meet launches in-meeting reactions to keep up.
The thing is, you need to pay for hand-raising in Google Meet—but hand-raising and emoji reactions are free to use in Zoom meetings. In Google Meet, you can’t gain access to hand-raising until you pay for a pretty high level of service, specifically their Business Standard Workspace plan that costs $12/month/user.
So...which one is better: Zoom or Meet?
When it comes to choosing a video conferencing platform, is Zoom or Google Meet better?
While Zoom definitely wins on features (like whiteboard, private messaging, higher-quality screen-sharing), Google Meet is generally easier to use and doesn’t require a separate app or download. So while we might choose Zoom for bigger meetings, we’d opt for Google Meet for everyday meetings.
But when it comes down to it, why choose between two so-so options when you can have one GREAT option. More on that below…
There’s another (better!) way to have meetings: Vowel
If you want to use a meeting app that’s better than Zoom but accessible through your browser, use Vowel.
Vowel isn't just another video conferencing tool. It's a meeting OS that gives you everything you need to plan, host, act on, and revisit meetings. There's nothing to download and no need for add-ons.
Vowel combines standard video call features with agendas, live transcription, collaborative notes, instant recordings, meeting recaps, and more. And yes, the emojis and hand-raises are free.
Before your meeting, schedule meetings directly from Google calendar and plan ahead with collaborative agendas that come into the meeting with you.
During your meeting, anyone can turn on recording to start a live transcription and bookmark key moments in the meeting as they happen. And everyone can contribute to shared notes and assign action items.
After your meeting, the recording is instantly available alongside a meeting recap and notes — all with a fully searchable transcript. Your meetings become artifacts that are easy to share, reference, and go back to later!
One-click recording and live transcription
Collaborative agendas and meeting notes
Universal search across all your past meeting content
Talk-time tracking and other inclusivity features
Meeting recaps with shared links and action items
Clip creation and sharing
…all with standard video conference features like screen-sharing, virtual backgrounds, calendar scheduling, personal room links, and more.
Vowel is awesome for:
Capturing customer feedback and sharing relevant clips with internal teams
Planning your next product sprint with real-time notes and action items
Keeping on top of action items for one-on-ones and other recurring meetings
Remembering who agreed to do what at your last weekly team meeting
Making remote work better!
Zoom or Google Meet are meeting apps that'll "just do" for having a meeting or hosting a webinar.
But if you want to have more productive meetings with your team — and keep a repository of all your meeting knowledge in one spot, sign up for Vowel for free!