Microsoft wants to make Teams “virtual” interactions more human which is why it is bringing a slew of new features to its cloud-based video conferencing slash productivity platform. It’s a gradual evolution of Teams that Microsoft has been working on ever since the pandemic began and even though many of the new features that it is announcing now won’t be available until later this year, it’s remarkable how quickly it has switched gears and adapted to the whole situation.
Microsoft says it has been taking customer feedback (seriously) and working with experts across virtual reality, AI, and productivity research to make Teams the future of work, while also better taking on competition from Google Meet and Zoom. All of its new (and upcoming) features are designed to make meetings feel natural, more inclusive and engaging, as well as reduce fatigue.
The headlining feature is a new Together Mode that lets you create an interactive virtual avatar of yourself and place you inside a virtual space, such as an auditorium or a coffee shop, along with your co-workers. Together Mode in Teams uses AI segmentation technology to make you “feel like you’re sitting in the same room with everyone else” letting you pick “non-verbal cues that are so important to human interaction.” This will be available for all users in August.
The other big feature coming to Teams is a new dynamic view that will allow users to “dynamically” share content side by side with others in the video call.
Speaking of participants, Teams will soon support video calling with up to 1,000 people, and up to 20,000 for “view-only” meetings.
Some of the other big features coming to Teams include video filters and live reactions with emojis, live transcripts, automated replies, and chat bubbles. Microsoft is also bringing Cortana integration to the mobile version of Teams.
Clearly, Microsoft is fully embracing the COVID-19 era with Teams and its upcoming features which isn’t surprising. There’s been a surge in video calling (and services) in the wake of the pandemic crisis with more and more people and corporations tapping into platforms like Teams to connect, for work, for leisure and what not. But at the same time, privacy concerns have also gone up. Microsoft believes it is up to the task. “Teams is not a tin sheet hut but a complete fort with a lot more functionality,” Samik Roy, who is country head for Modern Workplace at Microsoft India had said recently while speaking exclusively with Financial Express Online.