Google is giving away free access to its video chat platform as people turn to conferencing services to keep up with friends and family.

The move comes as a variety of companies compete to bring people together on their group video call services.

Rolling out from next month, anyone with a Google account will be able to create virtual meetings of up to 100 people at a time on Google Meet.

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There will be a limit of 60 minutes per session for free users, though Google says this won't come into effect until September 30.

Until now, Google has charged for access to its Meet video conferencing service, meaning that it has largely been eclipsed by other tools with free tiers such as Zoom as well as Facebook's Messenger and WhatsApp calls.

Such is Zoom's current popularity, even one of Google's own executives was reportedly outed as an apparent user.

According to the New York Times, Google's chief business officer Philipp Schindler was interrupted by his son last month, as he was telling employees on a call about using Meet, only for the child to blurt out how he and his friends enjoy using Zoom to chat.

However, Zoom has not been without its problems, with cases of 'zoombombing' already being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA), in which a stranger accesses a meeting uninvited and displays offensive material - in some cases child abuse footage.

Google's approach does not use passwords to enter chats, but instead video call hosts have controls for who can enter before they can participate, as well as the ability to lock the chat once everyone invited is inside.

The tech giant says Meet uses encryption and does not process data for advertising, nor share it with any third parties.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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