Microsoft announces new features for Teams

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on July 09, 2020 Published on July 09, 2020

From 20,000 participants on webinars to Cortana integration, the additions are wide-ranging

Microsoft has announced a range of new features for its video conferencing platform Microsoft Teams.

The tech giant has revamped its video conferencing solution keeping in mind the “future of remote work and education,” it said.

“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,” Microsoft said in an official blog post.

These new features including modifications to the user experience, increasing participant limit and AI integration with Microsoft’s own video assistant, Cortana.

Microsoft Teams meetings will now support up to 1,000 participants. For view-only meetings such as webinars, the platform will allow up to 20,000 participants.

Additions to user experience

Teams has also added a range of new user experiences including a ‘ Together mode.’ The Together mode is a new meeting experience that digitally places all meeting participants in the background. The feature, based on AI segmentation technology, makes it easier for meeting participants to identify the person talking and to have virtual discussions. Microsoft has begun rolling out the feature with auditorium view. It will be generally available in August.

“We’ll bring more views to Together mode in the future,” Microsoft said.

Microsft has also introduced a ‘Dynamic view’ to Teams. The view includes various enhancements including new controls such as viewing shared content and specific participants side-by-side and personalizing the view.

“Dynamic view builds on the meetings enhancements we announced last month, which include large gallery view (rolling out in August), where you can see the video of up to 49 people in a meeting simultaneously, and virtual breakout rooms, which allow meeting organisers to split meeting participants into smaller groups for things like brainstorming sessions or workgroup discussions,” the tech major explained.

Users can now access video filters for meetings — they can adjust the lighting and focus before a meeting using these filters. A Reflect messaging extension for managers, leaders and teachers allows them to check in with their teams. The feature provides a range of suggestions that leaders can ask their team in a poll-like format. They can also add custom questions using the extension. They can also choose to make poll results anonymous. The Reflect messaging extension will be available in the coming weeks, Microsoft said.

Features for Live presentations

It is also adding live reactions for users to react to presentations with emojis. It will also be bringing PowerPoint Live Presentations to the platform.

Additionally, Microsoft will also be adding speaker attribution to live captions and transcripts feature coming later this year for meetings to make it easier for people to follow who’s speaking and when. “Live transcripts, coming later this year, provide another way to follow along with what has been said and who said it. After a meeting, the transcript file is automatically saved in a tab as a part of the meeting,” it said.

It is also adding chat bubbles. Chats sent during a meeting will pop up automatically on the screens of all participants as part of the feature.

The platform will also provide suggested replies in Teams chat based on AI. Microsoft’s Whiteboard will also be updated new features soon. This includes faster load times, sticky notes, text, and drag and drop capabilities.

Microsoft will also begin to roll out The Tasks app in Teams this week. The app helps users organise their tasks and compiles them from Microsoft To-Do, Planner, and Outlook, all in one place.

It is also adding contact-less meeting experiences that enable users to join meetings and share content to meeting room devices from their own mobile device or PC.

It will also enable these features on the Surface Hub later this year. These are being added through a new room remote in the Teams mobile app.

Cortana for Teams

Microsoft will also be integrating its own voice assistant Cortana on Teams. Voice assistance will be enabled for Teams Room devices as well.

“We’re introducing new Microsoft Teams display, a new category of all-in-one dedicated Teams devices that feature an ambient touchscreen and a hands-free experience powered by Cortana,” Microsoft added.

“The Lenovo ThinkSmart View will be the first Microsoft Teams display to market, and Yealink will deliver one of the first devices in this category too,” it said.

Microsoft Teams displays with Cortana will be available in the United States later this year.

Cortana will also be available on the Teams mobile app for iOS and Android in the coming weeks for Microsoft 365 Enterprise users in the US in English.

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Published on July 09, 2020
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