Over the past two years of the pandemic, Google Meet has quickly become the most widely used video conferencing service for people, organizations, and educational institutions. The service is easy to use, available on a multitude of devices, and you don’t need to spend a dime to get it running on your computer or smartphone.
As the world slowly moves towards a hybrid work environment, Google Meet enables office and remote workers to collaborate and get things done in unison so that workflow is unaffected due to communication or lack thereof. Enter Companion Mode – a tool remote workers and their office teammates can use to interact with each other, share material, and brainstorm ideas right on Google Meet.
In this article, we’ll help you understand what Companion Mode is, how it’s different from a regular meeting in Google Meet, and how/where to use it for your workflow.
What is Google Meet Companion Mode?
Companion Mode was designed to minimize distractions from your workflow so you only see what’s most important on that screen. The feature gives users the ability to join a meeting from a second device such as another desktop computer or Google Meet hardware so as to use that device primarily to present meetings, send chat messages, conduct or participate to polls, Q&As and use breakout rooms.
This will be beneficial for meetings with a large number of participants as you can use your primary device to view video feeds from all participants while keeping the second device to view or share presentations and other collaboration tools. To avoid any audio feedback or bandwidth issues, Google disables your speaker, microphone, and camera devices so that the meeting session is not affected in any way.
The most important use case for Companion mode is a hybrid organization whose employees work both physically in offices and remotely from home. With Companion mode, office workers can join a Google Meet call without audio or video, as they can see and hear everyone in the conference, while remote workers can dial into the standard Google Meet meeting . Remote workers can also use Companion Mode for their setup by dividing workflow items across different devices based on what they want to do.
Educational organizations and tutors can also take advantage of this feature by using the primary device to check student engagement and interact with them while the second device can be used to teach and share their screens.
Features you CAN access with Companion Mode
If you join a Google Meet call in companion mode, you can access the following features from the meeting screen:
- In-call messages with participants
- Whiteboard to collaborate on ideas together
- View and share screens for presentations
- Subtitles to understand what it is about
- Use Host Commands [if you’re a meeting’s host]
- Conduct polls and Q&As [available for Workspace users]
- Raise your hand to speak [available for Workspace users]
- Record meetings [available for Workspace users]
- Create breakout rooms to designate the work of different teams [available for Workspace users]
Features you can NOT access with Companion Mode
Although Companion mode gives you a similar experience to an actual video call in Google Meet, there are some features you won’t be able to use indoors. The following features are disabled in Companion Mode to avoid distractions and save space for presentations and collaboration.
- Your microphone input is muted to prevent audio feedback from multiple devices. This will not affect your meeting experience if you are already on the same video call from another device or physically inside the conference room.
- Your camera input is disabled, as your primary device will transmit the camera feed directly to the meeting.
- You will not be able to see other people’s video feed in this mode.
- Since neither your video feed nor that of participants is visible in companion mode, you cannot apply video effects or change its layout.
Where can you use Companion Mode on Meet?
Google Meet Companion Mode is designed for use with a primary meeting device or in a physical conference room. So if you want to use it for meetings, you’ll need to join a Google Meet call on a desktop computer, a Google Nest Hub Max, or any other listed Google Meet hardware. here.
Companion mode cannot be enabled when using the Google Meet app on iOS or Android.
How to join a meeting in companion mode
You can join companion mode for a meeting in two different ways that work the same as joining a regular Google Meet meeting. Before proceeding with any of these methods, it is important that you have access to the meeting code or similar meeting you wish to join.
The easiest way is to visit g.co/companion on your desktop or Google Meet hardware. You’ll find that this screen looks a lot like the Google Meet homepage, except for a brief introduction to what companion mode is and how it works.
To join a meeting in companion mode, paste the meeting code or link you copied earlier into the text box, then click Start Companion.
If you’re already signed in to the Google account to which the meeting link was sent, you’ll be taken directly to the meeting screen. If not, the meeting host will need to accept your request to join to let you in. Users can log into companion mode even without a Google account as long as the host allows them to enter.
When your request is accepted, you will enter the meeting room and meeting participants will be able to see who has entered the session in companion mode.
Another way to join a meeting in Companion mode is to click on the dating link you were invited just like you would with any other meeting link. When the Ready to Join page loads, click the Use companion mode option under “Other Membership Options”.
If you’re accessing this meeting link without a Google account or through an account that wasn’t invited, you’ll need to enter your name and click Ask to use companion mode.
You will now be taken to the meeting screen in companion mode.
How to Use Companion Mode in Google Meet
When you enter a meeting with Companion mode, you will be able to interact with other people through one of the following options.
Send in-call messages to other participants
Since Companion Mode is designed to be used in an actual conference room or alongside a primary device that you’ve previously signed into Google Meet with, your only way to interact with other people from this device is to use the in-call message section. Indeed, your microphone and your camera will not be accessible to others to avoid audio feedback.
For this reason, as soon as you enter a meeting in companion mode, the In-Call Messages sidebar automatically loads. If you closed it by mistake, you can access it again by clicking on the Cat icon from the meeting controls at the bottom.
Present your screen
If the only purpose behind switching to Companion Mode was to share your screen with others in a meeting, you can start sharing by clicking the Present Icon the bottom.
Now select what you want to share from your desktop – A tab, a window or your entire screen.
In a window that appears next, select the browser window or tab you want to share (in case you’re not sharing your entire screen). The preview of the selected window or tab will now be displayed at the top. In this overview, you can activate the embedded sounds from the browser or from the tab by checking the box Share system audio box. If you don’t want sound, you can leave it unchecked.
When you’re ready to share your screen, click To share in the preview window.
Others will now be able to see your shared screen on their devices.
At any point in the meeting, companion mode users will only see the active presentation on their meeting screens if 2 or more presentations are hosted in a session.
Collaborate with others using the whiteboard
To facilitate working on ideas, the Companion mode offers users the benefit of a virtual whiteboard. When your team needs to brainstorm ideas together, you can access the whiteboard tool by clicking on the Activities icon in the lower right corner of the meeting screen, then selecting Whiteboard in the Activities sidebar.
From here, you can select a whiteboard that everyone participates in or create one using the Start a new whiteboard option. You can also import whiteboards from Google Drive by clicking Choose from Drive.
Enable caption to understand others
If you can’t understand what’s being discussed in a meeting, Companion Mode also lets you turn on closed captions so you can read what’s being said without switching to your primary meeting device. To enable subtitles, click the Closed Captions (CC) Icon basically. When subtitles are on, the CC icon will be highlighted in light blue.
You can change the language in which subtitles are generated by placing your mouse pointer to the right side of the screen and clicking on the currently selected language.
When the Settings menu appears, select a different language under “Meeting language” to set it as the default option for everyone. This option will only be available for meeting hosts, not for other attendees.
Can others see you when using companion mode?
Yes, when you join a meeting using Companion Mode, the meeting host will be notified that you are using Companion Mode in a bubble that appears in the lower right corner of their meeting screen.
At any time during the meeting, the meeting host will see a green companion mode icon in the upper left corner of their screen. This icon will let them know that some meeting participants have connected using companion mode.
Since connecting with Companion mode counts against the participant limit, meeting hosts and participants can see who is using Companion mode by clicking the People icon in the lower right corner. Participants who join the meeting using this feature will be highlighted with the label “Companion Mode” under their name.
That’s all you need to know about using Companion Mode on Google Meet.