For those with messy bedrooms or who simply want to retain an element of privacy during video chats, various videoconferencing tools have long offered ways to replace the real background with a virtual one.
Now, Google Meet has taken this one step further and launched 360-degree video backgrounds that use your Android or iOS device’s gyroscope to make a virtual background move with you instead of having it as a static image.
Current options put you in a temple or on a beach — in other words, locations that are likely to be dramatically different from your home office or living room, or whichever place you usually conduct your video chats from.
Google announced the new feature on its website, and included an example showing a man speaking from a sun-kissed lagoon.
Truth be told, the eye-catching scenery and abundance of movement may prove rather distracting for others in the call, but perhaps that distraction will fade after a short time. Also, we’re assuming that the person with the background won’t really be moving around quite as much as the person in Google’s demonstration clip, which should limit any distraction.
It’s worth noting that an administrator has the ultimate say as to whether those in a call can replace their real backgrounds with virtual ones or use special effects.
Google Meet’s 360-degree video backgrounds are available now on Android and iOS devices for all Google Workspace users, and also for those with personal Google accounts.
In other recent updates to Google Meet, the web giant made improvements to reduce the visual glitches that can sometimes appear between the outer edges of a call participant and their virtual background.
And last month Google also introduced emoji reactions to let call participants react to each others’ contributions.
With so many people switching to remote working during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020, it was rival application Zoom that became the go-to tool for those wishing to make video calls for work. The sudden change in work styles, and the massive success of Zoom, prompted Google and others to revamp their own videoconferencing tools to make them more useful in work and personal settings.