Microsoft at this time introduced the most recent slew of options coming to Microsoft Teams for folks at work and in training. This batch goals to “make virtual interactions more natural, more engaging, and ultimately, more human.” The majority of the additions are powered by AI, together with Together Mode, Dynamic View, Cortana, prompt replies, and speaker attribution and translation for reside captions and transcripts. Other new options embody video filters, reside reactions, chat bubbles, a Reflect messaging extension, Whiteboard updates, a brand new Tasks app, and assist for extra individuals.
Microsoft Teams is the corporate’s Office 365 chat-based collaboration device that competes with Slack, Facebook’s Workplace, and Google Chat, although these days it has shifted its aggressive focus to Zoom, which has exploded through the pandemic to guide the video calling house. Microsoft Teams is the corporate’s fastest-growing enterprise app ever. That was true in 2018, lengthy earlier than lockdowns began juicing up distant work and studying numbers. Microsoft’s Jeff Teper just lately instructed VentureBeat that Teams “will be even bigger than Windows.” As of April, Microsoft Teams had 75 million each day energetic customers, up 70% from simply six weeks prior.
Together Mode and Dynamic View
Together Mode is the function Microsoft is most enthusiastic about. It’s a brand new assembly expertise that makes use of AI segmentation expertise to digitally place individuals in a shared background. Microsoft says that is meant to make it really feel such as you’re sitting in the identical room with everybody else within the assembly or class.
This view strikes me as very teacher-centric — it’s what the presenter sees however not essentially the viewers. But Microsoft VP of Education Anthony Salcito disagrees.
“That’s certainly a natural way to a think about it, but the reality is the modern classroom is flipped,” Salcito instructed VentureBeat. “The students are often taking the center stage, so to speak. In a course of a daily class in many cases, pre-COVID-19, students were spending more time in front of the classroom presenting to their peers than the teacher. So in this model, you’ll have an environment where the students are seeing their classmates as they do presentations and lectures as well as the teachers. So it’s very, very natural. When we see students in the testing that we’ve had, everyone sort of looking up to the other screens, and it’s much more interactive and immersive for students. So I don’t necessarily think that’s a concern for us. The initial testing has been very, very positive. It sort of breaks down the grid and seeing everyone in one place is a super upgrade to a lot of the grid model, especially for classrooms. So I think it’s going to be very, very popular.”
Microsoft claims Together Mode makes conferences “more engaging by helping you focus on other people’s faces and body language and making it easier to pick up on the nonverbal cues that are so important to human interaction.” The firm expects it is going to be helpful for conferences through which a number of folks communicate, equivalent to brainstorms or roundtable discussions.
Microsoft acknowledges that Together Mode is “not intended for every meeting.” For conventional video conferences folks use day-after-day, the corporate is unveiling Dynamic View, which supplies you extra management over the way you see shared content material and different individuals in a gathering. This view makes use of AI to dynamically optimize shared content material and video individuals.
Dynamic View additionally consists of new controls that allow you to present shared content material and particular individuals side-by-side. Dynamic View shouldn’t be confused with Gallery View, which final month Microsoft introduced is increasing to assist as much as 49 folks in a gathering concurrently, matching Zoom. At the time, the corporate additionally introduced digital breakout rooms, which let assembly organizers cut up assembly individuals into smaller teams for issues like brainstorming classes or workgroup discussions.
Cortana, prompt replies, and speaker attribution
When you consider Microsoft and AI, you most likely consider the Cortana assistant, which the corporate has refocused on the enterprise. For Teams, which means Cortana is coming to the Android and iOS app, the place it’ll use AI and the Microsoft Graph to supply voice help.
You’ll be capable of ask Cortana to make a name, be a part of a gathering, ship chat messages, share recordsdata, and so forth. Microsoft guarantees to make use of Cortana enterprise-grade companies that meet Microsoft 365 privateness, safety, and compliance commitments. Cortana shall be restricted to Microsoft 365 Enterprise customers within the U.S. in English for now.
If you’re not a fan of voice, you might recognize prompt replies in Teams chat, which can use assistive AI to create brief responses based mostly on the context of the earlier message. (Think Google’s Smart Reply.) If somebody asks you “Do you have time to meet today?” Teams will counsel answering “I sure do!” so that you don’t have to drag up your keyboard.
Microsoft Teams already supplies reside captions so everybody can observe what’s being stated in a gathering. Now Microsoft is including speaker attribution to captions so that everybody is aware of who’s talking. That additionally permits Microsoft to supply reside transcripts — after a gathering, the transcript file is robotically saved within the chat tab for that assembly. Microsoft will even add the flexibility to translate reside captions into subtitles so you may observe alongside in a language aside from the one being spoken.
Microsoft can be bringing video filters to Teams — earlier than becoming a member of a gathering, you’ll be capable of use them to subtly regulate lighting ranges and soften the main target of the digital camera to customise your look.
Speaking of options borrowed from social media, Microsoft is including reside reactions — emojis that present up for all individuals. This is a shared function with PowerPoint Live Presentations, which lets viewers members present on the spot suggestions to the presenter. You gained’t be shocked then to be taught that Microsoft is bringing PowerPoint Live Presentations to Teams.
Another technique to not interrupt the dialog is to make use of chat throughout a gathering. Instead of getting to manually open a chat window to view the chat display, chat bubbles imply messages despatched throughout a Teams assembly will floor on the screens of all assembly individuals.
Speaking of messages, Microsoft is providing a brand new Reflect messaging extension to assist managers, leaders, and lecturers test in with how their staff or college students are feeling. That will be on the whole, or for a selected matter like work-life steadiness, the standing of a venture, present occasions, or a change throughout the group. IT directors will be capable of set up the Reflect extension from GitHub and make it accessible to staff within the message extension menu. The extension supplies prompt check-in questions, customized questions, and nameless ballot outcomes.
Whiteboard in Teams is getting a number of updates as effectively: quicker load occasions, sticky notes, textual content, and drag and drop capabilities. In brief, you’ll be capable of take part in whiteboarding classes throughout Teams conferences even when you don’t have a touchscreen.
The Tasks app in Teams will carry duties from throughout Microsoft To Do (RIP Wunderlist), Planner, and Outlook. It consists of sensible lists like “Assigned to me” throughout desktop, net, or cellular.
Finally, Microsoft Teams conferences are rising to assist as much as 1,000 individuals. If that’s nonetheless not sufficient, Teams will assist as much as 20,000 individuals who’re restricted to only watching a presentation or dialogue.
Touch and touchless
Microsoft at this time additionally briefly touched on Microsoft Teams shows, all-in-one devoted Teams gadgets that function an ambient touchscreen and a hands-free expertise powered by Cortana. These aren’t actually new — Lenovo introduced the Lenovo ThinkSmart View at CES 2020 in January. In any case, the corporate highlighted at this time that these gadgets allow you to use pure language to ask Cortana to affix a gathering, current slides, and dictate replies to a Teams chat.
Later this 12 months, Microsoft will provide touchless assembly experiences on Surface Hub. A brand new room distant within the Teams cellular app will present extra assembly controls, together with the flexibility to depart the assembly, mute and unmute the room, regulate audio quantity, and switch cameras on and off. Voice instructions will even be enabled for Microsoft Teams Room gadgets, and also you’ll be capable of wirelessly solid to any Teams Room, collaboration bar, or Surface Hub.
Feature availability timing
When Microsoft broadcasts new options for Teams, it’s not at all times clear when precisely each shall be accessible. So we requested the corporate to interrupt it down:
- Together Mode with auditorium view is rolling out now and shall be usually accessible in August.
- Dynamic View will roll out later this 12 months.
- Large Gallery View is rolling out in August.
- Virtual breakout rooms are coming within the fall.
- Reflect messaging extension shall be accessible within the coming weeks.
- Live reactions are coming quickly.
- Chat bubbles are coming quickly.
- Speaker attribution for reside captions and transcripts is coming quickly.
- The means to translate reside captions into subtitles is coming later this 12 months.
- Tasks app in Teams is rolling out this month.
- Smart Replies shall be usually accessible in July.
- Cortana is coming quickly to the Teams cellular app.
- Microsoft Teams shows with Cortana shall be accessible within the U.S. beginning later this 12 months.
- Touchless Meeting Experiences, together with a brand new room distant within the Teams cellular app, voice instructions, and the flexibility to wirelessly solid to any Teams Room, is coming on the finish of 2020.
- PowerPoint Live Presentations is coming to Teams sooner or later.
- Interactive conferences for 1,000+ (massive assembly assist) is coming on the finish of 2020.
- Whiteboard updates are coming in August 2020.
- Video filters are coming on the finish of 2020.