Microsoft Teams was launched worldwide on March 17, 2017. Since then, over a quarter of a billion people choose Microsoft Teams as their preferred business communication platform.
In light of this success, Microsoft doesn’t seem to be resting on its laurels either and has continuously brought about new features and refined old ones, with a healthy stream of updates. This year has been no different with some great innovations and new features making their way onto the platform. Let’s take a closer look below, at some of the best new features for Microsoft Teams.
1. Assign Seats in Together Mode
Together mode puts a new spin on virtual meetings and allows meeting organizers, and presenters, to assign “seats” to participants in the meeting. The goal here is to make participants feel more like they are in the same room. When a seat is selected, the participant’s avatar will be shown on the seat and will be visible to everybody.
Once enabled, you can select from different backgrounds to suit the type of meeting, ranging from an auditorium or office to even a café or courtyard. Then, to get the most out of your meeting, check out these tips to hold productive meetings on Microsoft Teams.
To try out Together mode, you will need at least four people present in the meeting, at which point you can then toggle it on by clicking: More actions > Together Mode (Preview.) The More actions dropdown is represented by the ellipses icon, in the top navigation bar.
2. Pop Out Shared Content Into a Separate Window
Anyone using a multi-monitor system will appreciate the new pop-out feature added for shared content. Previously you could only pop out individual Teams chat, meeting, and calling experiences into a separate window.
Now, any time a presenter shares content within a meeting, be it their screen, PowerPoint Live, or Whiteboard, you can now easily pop that out into a separate window. This is a great addition because you can now seamlessly keep one eye on your meeting to track who is saying what, and another on the shared content.
To try this out for yourself, click the Pop out button, in the top navigation bar whenever a presenter is sharing content in one of your meetings. To return the content to the main meeting view, simply close the window.
3. Live Translated Captions in Teams Premium
A premium feature introduced to Microsoft Teams is the Live Translated Captions Service. For now, it is available to all customers. That will change once Microsoft Teams Premium launches and becomes available as an opt-in add-on. The good news, however, is if a meeting organizer has a premium license, all participants can make use of the service and enjoy live captioning even if they are on a free account.
The service offers AI-powered, real-time translations from 40 spoken languages. In our testing, the service was able to keep pace with both native German and English speakers and provide very accurate translations between the two.
To enable live captions during a meeting, click More actions > Turn on live captions in the top navigation bar.
4. Updated Companion Mode for Android Users
Features that were previously only available for iOS have finally made their way to Android. Companion mode for Android has been completely refreshed and now supports engagement features like chat, live reactions, and Microsoft Whiteboard.
Now, from your device you can easily; join a meeting, see the list of participants, give live reactions, and use the raised hand gesture. Furthermore, you can also access meeting and device controls such as the ability to mute and unmute your microphone, share your screen or any open applications, and turn room cameras on or off.
5. Detailed Call History
Up until now the call history in Microsoft Teams was always a hit-or-miss affair. In the past, you couldn’t really glean all that much information from it. Now, it has been refined and offers a comprehensive view of incoming and outgoing calls, whether or not the calls were transferred or forwarded, and how they were controlled once received.
With the latest iteration of Microsoft Teams, you now have the ability to access call recordings and transcriptions from within call details, a feature that many people in the community have been asking for, for some time.
6. Microsoft 365 Connected Templates
Connected templates are an integration between Microsoft Teams templates and SharePoint templates. Up until now, administrators needed to deploy either a Microsoft Teams Template or a SharePoint template depending on their organizational needs.
A Microsoft Teams template is a mechanism used to deploy customized templates across an entire organization. Similarly, SharePoint templates are used by administrators and developers to create highly customizable sites with pre-populated pages and web parts. For more information check out our piece on Microsoft SharePoint sites explained.
Now, with connected templates, administrators can create versatile templates that incorporate SharePoint elements and capabilities.
It’s Easy to Be a Team Player With Microsoft Teams
Microsoft doesn’t seem to be slowing down when it comes to keeping Teams feature-rich and update to date, for the next generation of connected businesses. With this in mind, Microsoft has committed to releasing smaller updates for teams once per month, in line with their new development cadence.
Remote and hybrid ways of working are without a doubt becoming the new normal, and this is likely to drive innovation further still. It is reassuring to see Microsoft doubling down on this and providing features in both Teams and their other products that cater to this.
There is, however, strong competition from the likes of Zoom and Google Meet, but this is unlikely to deter Microsoft in any meaningful sense as their newly refreshed and rebranded Microsoft 365 offering, with Teams at the helm for business communication, is the complete ensemble for just about any enterprise.
Making Productivity Better With Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams continues to impress and features such as assigning seats, Android companion mode, and live translated captions go a long way to bridge the gap between working from home and the office.