Technology

Google Smart Display Zoom support could make homeschooling easier

Google Smart Displays are gaining Zoom support, with the ability to use the Assistant-powered screens to join video calls from the service. While that might once have only been of real use to businesses, the dramatic increase in working from home – as well as schools shifting to distance learning and homeschooling – means setting aside a Smart Display for Zoom calls could be significantly cheaper than buying a second laptop.

Google Meet is already supported on Smart Displays like the Nest Hub Max, and Google recently announced Chromecast support for the video calling service. With that, you can push a video chat over to a TV or other display, as long as it supports Google Cast natively or has a Chromecast HDMI adapter plugged in.

Today’s Zoom compatibility announcement, meanwhile, promises video calls on much smaller displays. Both free and paid Zoom accounts will be able to join such calls on Smart Displays – either from Google or other manufacturers, such as Lenovo, as long as they use the Google Assistant-powered software – and there’ll be new voice control for the feature too.

Saying “Hey Google, join my next meeting” will automatically trigger the Smart Display to open the next Google Meet or Zoom call that’s on your personal calendar. If you’re a Meet user, you can also start a meeting by voice too, with up to 100 people included.

It’s potentially going to be very useful for families suddenly discovering there’s a lot more people spending time in front of screens than before. With schools opting to push remote-learning instead of holding in-person classes, figuring out how to get students in front of video calls for virtual classrooms in the most affordable way possible has become a big issue for parents. While Chromebooks are relatively inexpensive in comparison to traditional laptops, a Smart Display with a camera can be even more affordable.

Google says the Zoom support will be added by the end of the year. It’s also adding beta support for G Suite accounts if you want to use the Assistant app for iOS and Android to control Meet video call invitations.

Finally, there’s a new broadcast option. Until now you’ve been able to broadcast a message to every smart display or speaker in the house, with the “Hey Google, broadcast…” command that makes every unit repeat your message. Google is adding support for specifying a single device, however – for example “Hey Google, broadcast to the kid’s room, ‘don’t forget your homework’” – which will target the message to one such speaker. That function is rolling out now.

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