In a major update, Microsoft has announced some new features for its communication and collaboration platform Teams. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, the company has been working on adding new features to bring a more personalised experience, and with the new update, it continues to dig deep into the consumer market.
“These features offer three key benefits for people at work and in education. First, they help you feel more connected with your team and reduce meeting fatigue. Second, they make meetings more inclusive and engaging. And third, they help streamline your work and save time. It’s all about enabling people everywhere to collaborate, to stay connected, and to discover new ways to be productive from anywhere,” said Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365.
The first major feature that is coming to Teams is ‘Together Mode’ which is like a new way to do virtual meetings. Microsoft is using AI to map a user’s face and shoulders to create a virtual live avatar. This tiny real-life version of the user is then placed in a virtual meeting room alongside other co-workers. According to the company, this will help you better engage with meetings by removing distractions around you. The feature should work well for meetings with multiple participants for brainstorming or roundtable discussions, as you can see who is actually speaking and who isn’t. Together mode with auditorium view is currently rolling out and will be generally available in August.
The second big update coming to Teams is dynamic view. This is specifically designed to give users more control over how they see content and other participants in a meeting. This includes the ability to show shared content and specific participants side-by-side. This should really help users while presenting to a group of co-workers. The new large gallery view that was announced earlier, is also going to roll out soon where users can see a video of up to 49 people in a meeting simultaneously, and split meeting participants into smaller groups for ease of communication.
With the increase in virtual meetings, it has become important to have video filters and Microsoft has thought of that as well. It is bringing video filters as well as live reactions to Teams. The filters can be used to soften your background or improve the lighting on your face so participants can see you better. With live reactions, participants can react with an emoji during meetings that will be visible to all. Later this year Teams will also include PowerPoint Live Presentations to and new chat bubbles wherein chats sent during a meeting will surface on the screens of all meeting participants.
Microsoft Teams will soon support up to 1,000 participants to bring large groups together for meetings or classes. This could also extend to up to 20,000 for a view-only meeting, say a presentation or a discussion. Live transcripts will also be added to Teams later this year along with the ability to translate live captions into subtitles making it easier for participants to catch up when a meeting is being held in another language.
Lastly, Cortana is soon going to be a part of Teams mobile app. This will allow users to ask Cortana to make a call, join a meeting, send chat messages, share files, and so on.
Microsoft also announced the new Microsoft Teams display, sort of like a smart display that we’ve seen with Google Assistant, only this one is going to be powered by Cortana.The all-in-one dedicated Teams devices will feature an ambient touchscreen and a hands-free experience allowing you to use your voice for various commands. Lenovo and Yealink will be delivering the first such devices later this year.