Starting today, you can use the Google Nest Hub Max for Google Duo group calls with up to 32 people (the same limit as web and mobile Duo calls), as well as Google Meet calls with up to 100 people. Even better, Google Meet calls on the Nest Hub Max will offer beta support for G Suite accounts, meaning you’ll be able to use the display for work-oriented group calls.
Group calling on smart displays would seem like a no-brainer, particularly while we’re all stuck at home due to the ongoing pandemic, yet it’s a feature that’s been—until now, anyway—curiously absent on the most popular displays.
Video calls on Amazon’s Echo Show displays are strictly one-to-one affairs, both for native Echo Show video calls and Skype calls, while the Google Nest Hub Max is only now getting video calls following today’s announcement. Facebook’s Portal smart displaysare capable of group video calls, but only for up to eight people via Facebook Messenger or four people for WhatsApp.
To start a Google Duo group call on a Google Nest Hub Max, you’ll first need to create some groups in the Google Duo mobile app. Once that’s done, you can say “Hey Google, make a group call” to the Google Nest Hub Max, and Google Assistant will show your available Duo groups on the display. Just tap a group to begin or join a call. The Google Nest Hub Max’s “auto-framing” feature will keep you in the frame even when you move around the room, just as it does during one-on-one video chats.
The procedure for making group video calls is slightly different for Google Meet. To join a Google Meet call, you can say “Hey Google, join a meeting,” then enter the meeting code on the Nest Hub Max’s display, or you can say “Hey Google, join my next meeting” to automatically join the next Google Meet that’s scheduled on your Google Calendar. To host a meeting on the Nest Hub Max, you can simply say, “Hey Google, start a meeting.”
Beyond setting up personal Google Meets on a Google Nest Hub Max, G Suite users will be able to hold work meetings on the display, provided that your G Suite admin joins the G Suite with Google Assistant beta program.
Separately, Google said that it’s now rolling out a feature that allows Google smart display users to “speed dial” their favorite household contacts.
First announced back in January during CES, the household contacts feature lets you quickly call a friend, loved one, or another important contact by saying “Hey Google, call Ben” or by tapping the contact’s name on the display. You’ll be able to manage your household contacts by tapping a card on the home screen.
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Ben has been writing about technology and consumer electronics for more than 20 years. A PCWorld contributor since 2014, Ben joined TechHive in 2019, where he covers smart speakers, soundbars, and other smart and home-theater devices. You can follow Ben on Twitter.