24 July 2020
Microsoft Teams is getting upgraded with a plethora of new features to make your meetings more interactive and natural than before. While announcing the new things, Microsoft emphasizes that the era of “remote everything” is getting a new meaning as we are moving to a more hybrid model of work where people are virtually connected. Microsoft brings this into our attention that it has spent the last few months learning from its customers and worked with experts across virtual reality, AI to help understand the future of work.
The first feature is the Together mode which virtually places all the members of the meeting together in the same room with a shared background as well. The example that Microsoft put shows all the participants sitting in a meeting-like room. The Together mode shows the avatars of all the members participating, waiving to each other, nodding, smiling. A meeting room can be anything where you would normally have face-to-face meetings. This way the Together mode makes meetings more engaging and connected.
Microsoft stresses that Together mode is the result of decades of research. You can learn more about it from Microsoft by following a dedicated page that elaborates on why Together mode. The new Together mode is rolling out now and it will be generally available to all users in August. It will debut initially with an auditorium view, but Microsoft is working on more views that will arrive in the future.
The other feature is Dynamic View which is also AI-driven and provides you more control over how you see shared content and other participants in a meeting. It gives you the ability to personalize the view you want. You can view shared content and participants side-by-side if desired.
Microsoft is also adding in video filters and live reactions to Microsoft Teams. If you want to customize your appearance, you can use the filters to subtly adjust lighting levels and soften the focus of the camera. But you have to customize before joining a meeting.
Microsoft is also bringing some features to streamline your work and save time. It is adding speaker attribution for live captions and transcripts. Teams already provides live captions but soon it will support speaker attribution to captions as well so that everyone knows who is speaking. Microsoft is also adding live transcripts to Teams later this year.
Teams meetings will soon also support up to 1,000 participants and even up to 20,000. Suggested replies feature is also coming to Microsoft Teams. This feature made its debutant in emails.
It uses AI to create short responses based on the context of the previous message. According to Microsoft’s announcement, Cortana is soon coming to Teams mobile app as well. You will be able to ask Cortana to make a call, join meetings, share files with colleagues, or even send chat messages.
Microsoft is also adding live reactions to the Teams with the help of which you will be able to react during a meeting. It is a shared feature with PowerPoint Live Presentations which allows audience members to provide instant feedback to the presenter. Also, Microsoft Teams is getting chat bubbles so that you can get a quick look at the chats sent by the participants in a meeting. Microsoft points out that paying attention to video feeds, presentations, and chats all at the same time can be challenging. So, soon chats sent during a meeting will surface on the screens for a quick look.
A new app called Tasks is also launching within Teams this month to offer a unified view of tasks across different apps available on the platform. For instance, the Tasks app can bring together your tasks from Planner, Microsoft To-Do, and Outlook. The Tasks app can also create smart views such as “assigned to me” and “important” for a more structured view of actions.
Note that most of these new Microsoft Teams will arrive later this year.