Chromebooks had a terrific year in 2020, hitting a new global shipment record as the entire world shifted to an increasingly remote collaboration and learning lifestyle. Chromebooks were already popular in the education segment due to their affordable pricing and the relatively simple software experience, but their hardware sometimes proves to be a performance bottleneck, especially while on a video conference and running multiple other apps in the background. Google knows that all too well, and is looking to refine the Meet and Zoom experience on Chromebooks.
“These Chrome OS updates will help students run video calls at home while they’re using apps like Google Classroom, Docs, Sheets, Slides and other tools, regardless of the device or the strength of their internet connections,” the company notes in its blog post. As for the actual improvements, Google is promising a smooth video calling experience while using advanced features such as grid view and running other useful apps at the same time. The company has already toned down the resource demands of audio and video streams to improve the video calling performance.
Google adds that it is at work to make Meet ‘adapt more intelligently to your device, your network and what you’re working on’. One of these adaptive upgrades includes slightly reducing the video resolution or frame rate while sharing the screen to ensure that the overall video calling performance is not affected by lags and stutters. And based on the bandwidth available, Google Meet will also temporarily turn off some video feeds, especially on a congested network.
The search giant has also been working with the folks over at Zoom to carry over some of Google Meet’s aforementioned improvements to the eponymous Zoom video calling platform. The changes outlined above are not groundbreaking, but they will go a long way in improving the notoriously demanding group-based video calling experience that pushes the low-end hardware of cheap Chromebooks to its limits.