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Microsoft Announces More Teams Improvements, Including Third-Party Integrations

Microsoft recently described several improvements coming to Teams, as well as other products, to improve collaboration in this period of remote work.

Microsoft Teams users are getting the ability to use third-party and Microsoft apps during meeting sessions. Apps can be shared using Microsoft "share-to-stage" feature for Teams. The share-to-stage feature "not only allows you to share a Teams meeting app's content onto the meeting stage for everyone to see -- but also lets them interact with the content in real-time," Microsoft explained in this Thursday announcement. Third-party apps from MURAL, Miro, Lucidspark and Freehand will be arriving initially.

For home users, Logitech will be coming out with a new Logi Dock docking stations in "winter 2021." It lets users plug in multiple devices, but also lets them join meetings with a button press, and includes a built-in speakerphone.

Apple Car Play will support Teams, starting sometime this month. Participants can join meetings and make hands-free phone calls by invoking Apple's Siri digital assistant.

Teams will be getting a "lighting corrections" capability "in the coming months." It's automatic and puts meeting participants into proper lighting conditions, "even in low-light environments."

Viva Connections, a Microsoft Viva product that provides a central portal for company news and resources, will be available as a mobile application. The mobile app is expected to reach the preview stage "in the upcoming weeks."

Microsoft is updating "companion mode," a capability in Teams that lets users share a Teams session on another device, such as a mobile phone, or a room device, such as a Microsoft Surface Hub. Microsoft is planning an update to companion mode "in the next few months" that will make it easier to access meetings and use various controls, as well as access "features like chat, live reactions, and Microsoft Whiteboard."

Herskowitz also described some Outlook collaboration improvements that will be coming "early next year." Outlook's "working hours" feature will be able to show "work schedule specifics" in its Calendar. A new RSVP feature used with meeting invitations will let people specify whether they will meet in person or online.

Teams Displays devices are getting a "hot desking experience." It allows Teams Displays devices to be reserved in Outlook or Teams as a workspace in an office. The hot desking experience is expected to arrive first for Lenovo ThinkSmart devices, Herskowitz indicated:

Teams displays can be used as a standalone device or as a second screen when hot-desking and upon signing out, all personal information will be removed from the device. This experience is expected to be available on Lenovo ThinkSmart view by the end of 2021.

PowerPoint will be getting a "Cameo" feature "in early 2022" that lets presenters put a camera feed of themselves within a presentation.

Microsoft is also planning to add a "speaker coach" feature in Teams in "early 2022." It uses artificial intelligence to gauge the pace of presentations, offering advice. It also assesses whether there have been interruptions during a meeting, showing the speaker a notice to that effect.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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