(Pocket-lint) - With so many video conferencing services constantly rolling out new features and settings, it's hard to keep up and avoid feeling fatigued. Nevertheless, Microsoft is moving forward with a massive update to Microsoft Teams. It, of course, brings new features, including a Together Mode for these pandemic times.
However, to keep things mildly interesting, the company is also introducing new Teams hardware from third parties. Here's what you need to know.
What's new with Microsoft Teams?
On 8 July 2020, Microsoft announced an update to Microsoft Teams. Here is a summary of the biggest changes.
With Together Mode, you can create a live avatar of yourself. Microsoft said it's using AI to portray your face and shoulders and place you in a virtual space, or "view", and that you can even tap other on the shoulders and do virtual high-fives. Just think of it as a new take on large gallery views during video calls. Initially, users will have the option to use an auditorium view. Microsoft is working on more views, however, which are coming down the pike.
Confusingly, separate from Together Mode, Microsoft is also launching a new dynamic view for Teams. It is more like a mode. It will allow you to share content alongside others in the video call - handy for cases where you need to present a slide deck but still want to be able to see and interact with participants.
Video filters and live reactions
Microsoft Teams is adding video filters and live reactions. You can use these filters to adjust lighting levels or the focus of the camera during video calls, while live reactions will allow participants to react with emoji, which everyone can see during the video call.
Microsoft Teams Displays
Microsoft announced Microsoft Teams hardware! Called Teams Displays, the first new devices are from Lenovo and Yealink. These will be dedicated Teams hardware featuring a touchscreen and Cortana integration. Lenovo’s ThinkSmart View will be one of the first to arrive. It's basically a smart display.
Is that it?
Microsoft Teams meetings will soon grow to support up to 1,000 participants (and up to 20,000 if people are joining to watch). It's also adding live transcripts to Teams later this year, as well as the ability to translate live captions into subtitles in another language. Suggested replies are coming to Microsoft Teams, too. These will be short and automated and based on the context of previous messages in channels.
Microsoft is bringing chat bubbles to Teams later this year, so that chats sent during Teams meetings will surface above a call for everyone to clearly view. Finally, Cortana integration is imminently arriving to the mobile version of the app, allowing you to ask Cortana to make a call, join meetings, share files, and more.
When will Microsoft Teams' new features and displays arrive?
Microsoft is currently rolling out Together Mode to Microsoft Teams. It should be generally available to all users by August 2020. The rest of Microsoft Teams' new features will arrive in the app sometime later this year. Meanwhile, the first Microsoft Teams Displays with Cortana should arrive by the end of 2020.