Since its launch, Microsoft Teams is gaining more and more attention. The success is a result of the useful features and easy integration. The application is basically a hub for teamwork integrating tools and capabilities to help works in their daily routine. It’s the primary client for Intelligent Communications in Office 365, replacing Skype for Business Online over time. Teams is under constant update and improvements with new tools and features available. Our latest blog post reveals the new features available to start this 2021.
New Tools for Meetings
Microsoft announced new capabilities to make online meetings easier and productive.
Background blur: Users can remove distractions and focus the video on what matters most, which means that you don’t need to worry about your background while doing that meeting with your colleagues.
Meeting recording: As the name suggests, you can record your meetings, so you or other invitees who missed the meeting can playback recorded audio, video, and content at any time. You can also search for keywords and optimise your time, thanks to a transcript powered by Microsoft Stream.
Cloud video interop: Companies that already have room for technology investments can bring it into Teams as well. Through partner offerings from Polycom, BlueJeans, and Pexip, a full portfolio of legacy devices can now be full-fledged audio/video participants in Teams meetings with content sharing.
Reduce Background Noise
It's a challenge to keep a silent background when everything is happening from home. The option to reduce the background noise uses AI to enhance your Microsoft Teams meeting experience.
Click on Menu Activity and then click on the cog to access your settings, follow the images below to configure yours.
Click on Devices and Select the option Noise Suppression as below.
Under the option Noise suppression Change the default option to High. Then, you are ready to enjoy your next meeting without worrying about your noisy environment.
Calling Direct from a Chat
That is a handy new feature. Now you can call (audio or video) a chat contact directly from the chat window. You can now see a split button in the chat header for audio/video calling (below image). This displays multiple numbers for a single contact as well, making it easier to view available numbers to initiate a call.
Virtual Breakout Rooms
Breakout rooms can be a powerful tool to allow meeting organizers to divide the meeting into smaller groups. The feature is particularly good to facilitate discussions and brainstorming sessions. Breakout room can be created in a Teams meeting or a Teams channel meeting. Once, have done that organizers can easily jump in between the rooms, deliver announcements to all breakout rooms at once, and bring everyone back to the main meeting at any time. Watch the video below to see how to configure it.
Now, before you enter a meeting, you can set up your meeting experience. So, you can adjust your audio, video, and device configuration before joining the meeting. The below settings pop-up will appear after you have clicked join.
Live Captions for 1:1 Calls
Whether you’re in a noisy environment or just missed what was said, live captions can make it easier to follow along in calls. Admins can disable this capability if desired, and users have control to turn these off. It is recommended to speak clearly into the microphone and avoid having multiple people speaking at the same time.
Tailored Experiences Focus on Roles and Industries
Teams brought new tailored options to industry-specific and role-based workflows. For example, there are more than 2.5 billion first-line workers worldwide – that’s a group that includes factory workers, store clerks, and electricians, among other roles. Focused on this industry Microsoft announced new capabilities in Teams to help first-line workers in their daily routine.
With Home, first-line workers can clock in and out of shifts/breaks, receive important notes for the day or shift, find out who is working during the shift and save time by easily reviewing information and schedule.
It’s a feature to enable first-line managers to plan schedules in an employee self-service and integrated experience. They can create, update and distribute schedules for teams as well as broadcast open and unfilled shifts so that other employees can cover them. Finally, they can review and accept time off requests and swap shifts – all from mobile. For first-line employees, they can swap/offer shifts and request time off, right from their phones.
Security and Compliance Needs
Some industries require more security features than others. To this audience, Microsoft is releasing two new secure messaging features, which are particularly relevant to the healthcare segment. Image annotation and priority notifications. These capabilities support HIPAA compliance and enable clinicians to communicate about patients while avoiding the privacy risks that arise when healthcare professionals use consumer chat apps, for example.
Image annotation – capture images, annotate, and share them on a secure platform. IT Admins can set policies to prevent images from being stored on a mobile device or local drive.
Priority notifications – alert the recipient to an urgent message and automatically notify the recipient every two minutes for up to twenty minutes.
Microsoft also announced the expansion of its device portfolio to provide a better experience for Teams users. These devices across personal and shared spaces are made possible through partners, such as AudioCodes, Crestron, HP, Jabra, Lenovo, Logitech, Polycom, Plantronics, and Yealink. You can check the list of integrated devices by clicking here.
Since Microsoft Teams was announced one of the requests was the integration with guests from outside the organisation. The feature is available now is one more option to facilitate the professional’s daily activity.
Guest access allows professionals to collaborate with people outside the organisation by granting them access to existing teams and channels on one or more of the tenants. Anyone with a business or consumer email accounts, such as Outlook, Gmail, or others, can participate as a guest in Teams with full access to chats, meetings, and files.
The name of the feature is Guest access and it’s included with all Office 365 Business Premium, Office 365 Enterprise, and Office 365 Education subscriptions with no additional licensing required. You can have up to 5 guests per licensed user on your tenant.
Examples of who can be a guest
Literally a guest from the Microsoft Teams perspective is someone who doesn’t have a school or work account with your organisation. For example, guests may include partners, vendors, suppliers, or consultants. Anyone who is not part of your organization can be added as a guest in Teams. This means that anyone with a business account (that is, an Azure Active Directory account) or a consumer email account (with Outlook.com, Gmail.com, or others) can participate as a guest in Teams, with full access to teams and channel experiences.
The difference between guest access and external access (federation)
Guest access gives access permission to an individual and External access gives access permission to an entire domain.
Once Guest access is granted by a team owner, it allows a guest to access resources, such as channel discussions and files, for a specific team, and chat with other users in the team they have been invited to. With external access (federated chat), the external chat participants have no access to the inviting organization’s teams or team resources. They can only participate in one-on-one federated chat.
Tenant admins can choose between the two communication options depending on which level of collaboration is desirable with the external party. Admins can choose either approach or both, depending on their organizational needs. Microsoft recommends enabling guest access for a fuller, collaborative Teams experience.
All guests in Teams are covered by the same compliance and auditing protection as the rest of Office 365 and can be managed securely within Azure AD.
Improved Develop Tools
One of the core values of Teams is the developer platform, which provides organisations the possibility to extend their experience with development tools and third-party integrations.
To improve the Teams experience for developers, Microsoft announced the general availability of Adaptive Cards, which provide a rich, interactive, and flexible card system that works across Teams, Outlook, Windows, and Cortana.
Task Module Integration
A tool that enables a rich popup experience using either an adaptive card or embedded web content. They also recently released the Teams App Studio Enhancements. The feature allows developers to perform the below actions from within the App:
- Register and manage your AAD App and Bot directly within App Studio
- A revamped card editor with a new design allowing for editing multiple cards
- Convenient one-click side loading and testing of your app
- .NET and Node.js support for Bot Framework 4.x is coming soon (in preview)
Microsoft Teams is quickly emerging as one of the most rapidly growing extensibility surfaces in Office 365. All the new API’s, integration with SharePoint, security features for data, and more are some of their most attractive features. You can check an extensive list of features at this link provided by Microsoft and which served as a source for our article.
*The article above is based on the information provided by Microsoft on the below links:
Microsoft Teams Training in Ireland
At New Horizons Ireland, one of the leaders in delivering Microsoft courses we offer a wide range of courses. From all levels of IT professionals to end-users. Check it out with one of our Account Managers and choose the best option for your needs.
Microsoft Teams Course List
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