If you don’t use Zoom for virtual meetings, you probably use Google Meet — such is the duopoly of the video conferencing industrial complex.
“There’s gotta be a better way!” …is what Vowel would say if we were in a 1988 infomercial. But instead we’re here, with you, and together we’re going to dare to dream that virtual meetings can be productive, inclusive, collaborative — and maybe even a fun part of your day.
Because unlike Google Meet, Vowel is a meeting productivity tool with everything you need to plan, host, act on, and revisit meetings. Similar to Google Meet, Vowel is a browser-based tool that doesn’t require download.
But unlike Google Meet, you won’t need add-ons to get built-in transcription, instant recording, collaborative notes, and search — things that make your meeting something you can act on, not just … have.
Here’s everything you need to know about what you can expect if you switch from Google Meet to Vowel. (If you want to read about how Vowel compares to Zoom, you can do that too.)
Vowel has built-in transcription
First, let’s address the elephant in this paragraph: We know you don’t want to review text transcripts for every meeting you have. Meetings are time consuming enough.
But let’s say you’re trying to remember that great thing your colleague said, off-hand, during your team meeting a couple weeks ago. Instead of messaging them on Slack and interrupting their work, wouldn’t it be better to search a time-stamped transcript from the meeting?
That’s where Vowel is better than Google Meet. While Google Meet does have live closed captions, you can’t get a meeting transcript without an add-on and you can't go back and search the content of your meetings.
Vowel has built-in live transcription. Just click the Recording button and your meeting will be captured and instantly available from your dashboard after the meeting is over.
Bonus: If your meeting isn’t in English (as many meetings aren’t!), choose from multiple transcription languages (Spanish, French, Mandarin, Japanese, Russian, and more).
Vowel provides instant — and useful — cloud recordings
People are busy, and they can’t attend every meeting they’re invited to. That’s when you may want to send them a recording.
But that’s overwhelming. No one wants to read a whole meeting transcript, and they definitely don’t want to watch an entire recording.
If you’re a paying Google Workspace member, you can record meetings as an organizer. They’re saved in your Google Drive under My Recordings, where you can share them with people who couldn’t attend the meeting.
But when you share a Google Meet recording, you’ve given that person homework they don’t have time to do … because they didn’t have time to attend the meeting.
Vowel recordings do better. Vowel uses X-ray view to isolate which speaker you want to view. With 1.5–2x playback speed and time stamps, you’ll get through the recording as quickly as possible while getting what you need out of it. And, as mentioned, you can search the transcript alongside the video and jump right to that point in the meeting — no fast-forwarding.
Important note: If you want to go off the record during a meeting, just pause the recording by hitting the button, and resume when you’re ready.
Vowel lets you search all your past meeting content
Searching transcripts is great for resurfacing that one brilliant idea, but what about all the stuff that isn’t said out loud? We’re thinking about all those smart introverts who say nothing during the entire meeting, then post the most useful insight you’ve ever heard in the chat.
In Google Meet, all chat messages disappear when you leave the meeting unless you’re on a paid plan and you turned on a recording. Even then, chats are saved as a separate .SBV file that no human being wants to interact with.
When you record a meeting in Vowel, you get all the contents of a meeting. So if you want to know how many times your customers mention certain features during interviews, you can do a word search and see how many times it came up. Your search terms show up as highlighted words in meeting transcripts, notes, and bookmarks, and they're easy to filter by meeting participant, folder, or date range.
Vowel lets you bookmark key moments and revisit them
Searching video recordings and text transcripts is a lot easier when you recognize a golden moment during a meeting. If someone says something important, insightful, or actionable during a meeting, you should be able to mark that moment … somewhere.
During a Vowel meeting, you can bookmark a meeting moment so you have it marked in the X-ray view and transcript later. You can also create and save clips directly from the transcript, then save them for your own records or share with others — this function is particularly awesome for customer research calls or employee training sessions. Here's a quick video on how it works:
Google Meet’s recording and transcript features can’t do this. You could technically create a clip of a Google Meet recording with a screen recorder like Loom, but Vowel’s method within the platform is a whole lot easier.
Vowel has shared notes
Note-taking is an art form. We will die on this hill.
If you want to take your own handwritten notes during a meeting, that’s okay. But it’s an asynchronous world, and shared meeting notes are part of the practice of productive meetings.
When all meeting attendees take notes collaboratively, everyone walks away with the same meeting notes and they're all accessible from the meeting recording (which all attendees have).
This is how it works when you use Vowel — the shared notepad means everyone can take notes, assign action items, and prioritize what’s important together, in real time. Every time a note is recorded, it’s time-stamped, making it easy to jump to a certain point in the transcript or recording afterward.
You can take notes during a Google Meet, but it’s going to happen outside the meeting interface in a pre-populated Google doc. All attendees will need to have this open during a meeting or you’ll need to share your screen. And you'll need to save the notes to a central repository that everyone has access to (or remind them they have access to).
Vowel has integrated agendas
In an asynchronous world, many of us live by this:
And we don’t blame anyone who does. Meeting agendas are one of the most effective ways to make sure your meetings aren’t a waste of time.
Meeting agendas are part of Vowel’s DNA. You don’t need to create an agenda if you don’t want to, but the best practice is part of the interface — which is probably better than constantly reminding your colleagues to attach an agenda to every meeting.
Then, when your meeting starts, the agenda is there for everyone as part of the call. It’s your starting point for shared meeting notes and assigned action items.
Google Meet doesn’t have any of this, and neither does its alternatives.
Vowel promotes inclusivity
Your irritation is one indicator that someone is talking too much during a meeting. But what if you could outsource that irritation to data?
It’s easy to turn off, but we recommend tracking the amount of time each participant has taken space during a meeting. When you turn on talk-time tracking in Vowel, you’ll see a percentage value for every person on screen. That way, when you’re moderating a meeting and notice someone with a low percentage, you can ask them for input (if it makes sense). After the meeting, you get a snapshot again of how much each person talked.
Virtual meetings have been great for creating more inclusive work spaces — at least for attendance. The next step is to make participation more equitable, and that means knowing how much people are participating in the first place.
Google doesn’t offer tracking — at least, not without yet another Chrome extension.
Video conferencing basics
Now that you know some of the key differences between Vowel and Google, here’s how Vowel covers the basics — everything video conferencing tools need for high-quality video meetings.
Video calling: Vowel offers high-quality video and audio so every word is crisp and clear. It also includes your basic mic and camera settings and a Reactions bar that lets you respond to great ideas and comments with emojis.
Security: Vowel is SOC2 Type II certified, which means it uses best practices for encryption, security, and privacy.
Calendar integration: Vowel connects with your Google calendar so you can see upcoming meetings and jump in with one click. Vowel’s Chrome extension also lets you add a Vowel link to meetings when you schedule them in your Google Calendar.
Screen sharing: Screen sharing is easy in Vowel with a one-click screen-sharing option. You have the option to present with your camera off or keep your camera on, with your face in the corner of the presentation.
Virtual backgrounds: We wouldn’t ask you to give up your virtual backgrounds for us. Blur your background, select from one of Vowel’s pre-set options, or upload your own image.
Free plan: Our promise to you — there will always be a free plan with transcription and recording. Try it for as long as you want before investing in a paid plan.
Vowel's top features
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 conferencing features like screen-sharing, virtual backgrounds, calendar scheduling, emoji reactions, 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
Creating a meeting culture where it's okay to miss meetings sometimes (and take vacations!) because you can catch up with them later.
Google Meet is a great meeting app for just … having a meeting or hosting a webinar. But if you want to have more productive meetings, sign up for Vowel for free.