Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams gets new video-calling features

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Microsoft has added a series of new video-calling features to Teams, including a Together mode which looks to provide a new way to group chat.

Microsoft recently released new features designed to improve video call made using its group communication platform, Teams. This is only the latest set of features that Microsoft has added to its team chat application as the company looks to capitalise on the increase in usage, due to more people now working from home. A time that has seen the use of communication apps and services soar in general.

Microsoft says that the new features are meant to make virtual interaction more natural and engaging with Together mode being the major addition to the growing functionality of Teams.

Microsoft Teams Together Mode

Together mode is a new meeting experience in Teams that uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place participants in a shared background, making it feel like you’re sitting in the same room with everyone else in the meeting or class.

Together mode makes meetings more engaging by helping you focus on other people’s faces and body language and making it easier to pick up on the non-verbal cues that are so important to human interaction.

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.

Together mode view is the same for everyone in the meeting and doesn’t change, unlike grid views that show participants’ videos in different locations on each person’s screen and that move the boxes around during the call based on who’s speaking.

Together mode with auditorium view is rolling out now and will be generally available in August. Microsoft says it will be bringing more views to Together mode in the future.

Microsoft Teams Dynamic View

While Together mode offers an extraordinary new meeting experience, it’s not intended for every meeting. A set of enhancements called dynamic view gives you more control over how you see shared content and other participants in a meeting.

Using AI, meetings dynamically optimise shared content and video participants. New controls—including the ability to show shared content and specific participants side-by-side—let you personalise the view to suit your preferences and needs.

Microsoft Teams Video Filters

We’ve all become familiar with video filters used in photography and social media apps, and now Microsoft is bringing them to Teams. Before joining a meeting, you can use the filters to subtly adjust lighting levels and soften the focus of the camera to customise your appearance.

Microsoft Teams Reflect Messaging Extension

The new Reflect messaging extension gives managers, leaders and teachers an easy way to check in with how their team or students are feeling — either in general, or about a specific topic like work-life balance, the status of a project, current events, or a change within the organisation.

IT administrators will be able to install the Reflect extension from GitHub, and then make it available to employees in their organisation in the message extension menu. Once installed, the extension provides suggested check-in questions and the ability to add custom questions that team members can respond to in a poll-like experience.

Managers or teachers can also choose to make poll results anonymous. The Reflect messaging extension will be available in the coming weeks.

Microsoft Teams Live Reactions

Non-verbal cues like smiles and head nods can be difficult to notice in online meetings, making it challenging for presenters to gauge audience reactions and for participants in large meetings to share a sentiment without interrupting the meeting flow.

Soon, you will be able to react during a meeting using emojis that will appear to all participants. Live reactions is a shared feature with PowerPoint Live Presentations, which allows audience members to provide instant feedback to the presenter.

Microsoft will be bringing PowerPoint Live Presentations to Teams in the future, further enabling audience engagement right from Teams.

Microsoft Teams Chat Bubbles

During meetings, chat has become a lively space for conversation and idea-sharing, and offers an option for people to participate in the discussion without having to jump in verbally. But it can be challenging to pay attention to video feeds, presentations, and chats all at the same time.

Currently, Teams users need to manually open a chat window to view the chat screen. Soon, however, chats sent during a Teams meeting will surface on the screens of all meeting participants, making the chat more central to the conversation.

Speaker attribution for live captions and transcripts

While Teams already provides live captions as a way to follow along with what is being said in a meeting, Microsoft will soon add speaker attribution to captions so that everyone knows who is speaking.

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.

Interactive meetings for 1,000 participants and overflow

There are times when it’s important to bring large groups together for meetings or classes. For more interactive meetings—where attendees can chat, unmute to talk, and turn on their videos for real-time collaboration, Teams meetings are growing to support up to 1,000 participants.

When you want to bring more people together to watch a presentation or discussion, Teams can support a view-only meeting experience for up to 20,000 participants.

Microsoft Whiteboard updates

Visual collaboration tools can make meetings and teaching environments more effective and inclusive. Whiteboard in Teams will soon be updated with new features including faster load times, sticky notes, text, and drag and drop capabilities.

These features enable team members who don’t have access to a touchscreen or Surface Hub to participate in whiteboarding sessions during Teams meetings.

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