Microsoft is again improving the experience on its flagship chat and communications platform Teams with new features that utilize artificial intelligence, video filters, live reactions and more.
Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365, detailed the new releases in a Wednesday blog post.
“These features offer three key benefits for people at work and in education,” Spataro wrote. “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.”
We’ll highlight some more noteworthy features below, but you can read Microsoft’s blog for the full list.
We’ve been meeting virtually since March, and many of you are experiencing videoconferencing fatigue. Together mode is a new experience designed to combat that fatigue. It uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place participants in a shared background. That’s supposed to make users feel like they’re in the same room with everyone else in the meeting or class, hopefully leading to mor engaging meetings by helping users focus on body language and faces that mimic in-person interactions.
“It’s great for meetings in which multiple people will speak, such as brainstorms or roundtable discussions, because it makes it easier for participants to understand who is talking,” Spataro wrote.
That feature is rolling out now and will be generally available in August.
Dynamic view also uses AI to optimize shared content and video participants, giving users the ability to show shared content and specific participants side-by-sided. The idea here is to give users more control over how they see shared content and other people in a meeting. This builds on previous improvements, like a larger gallery view, rolling out in August, that will let users see up to 49 people simultaneously.
Cortana and displays
Cortana, Microsoft’s smart virtual assistant, will be brought to the Teams mobile app to help users make calls, join a meeting, send messages and more with just their voice.
Microsoft is also introducing Microsoft Teams display, a new category of all-in-one dedicated Teams devices with Cortana included for a hands-free experience. The Lenovo ThinkSmart view will be the first Teams display to market, Spataro writes.
Reflect messaging extension
In an effort to boost employee well-being and productivity, Microsoft is introducing a reflect messaging extension that provides managers suggested check-in questions in the form of a poll question. The results can be anonymous.
Other platforms like Zoom already offer this feature, but Microsoft is rolling a series of emojis to use as non-verbal cues that will appear to all participants. It’s a shared feature with PowerPoint Live Presentations which also allows for instant feedback. PowerPoint Live Presentations will also be brought to the Teams experience in the future, Spataro wrote.
Interactive meetings for 1,000 participants and overflow
Spataro says Teams meetings are growing to support up to 1,000 participants for large meetings or classes that allows for real-time collaboration like normal meetings. For larger groups, Teams can support a view-only meeting for up to 20,000 people.
Like most email providers, Teams will offer you suggestions for quick replies in Teams chats using assistance AI.
Spataro says these new features were based on customers surveys stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. The company’s findings have been published.