As Microsoft Teams continues to stand out as the hub for successful collaboration in the “work from anywhere” landscape, Microsoft is consistently rolling out new features. For the December release, the company introduced a host of new and improved voice capabilities to enable organisations in a variety of communication situations.
There’s also a new selection of features for IT admins and various new case studies from Microsoft to help companies understand how Teams can transform their landscape.
As usual, the selection of updates from Microsoft Teams is vast, covering everything from meeting updates, to new solutions for calling.
Better Communication in Teams
In Microsoft’s recent update, the company acknowledged that people in companies communicate in different ways depending on their work style, preferences, and role. The new voice features from Microsoft Teams include:
- Group call pickup with custom groups of people who can answer your calls
- Shared line appearance that allows you to choose a delegate to answer a call
- Call park which connects callers with users that aren’t easily available
- Location-based routing to help you comply with local regulations by restricting the way calls are routed between PSTN and VoIP endpoints
Microsoft is also adding new AI-based noise suppression to conversations, so you can automatically remove unwelcome distractions from meetings. Users can choose exactly how much noise suppression they want, to the point where you can retain just the speech signal, and nothing else.
Updated Collaboration on Teams: Meetings and chat
From a collaboration perspective, Teams users will have a variety of ways to improve the way they connect and communicate going forward. New Together Mode scenes are now available beyond the standard auditorium now, so you can choose the tone you want to set for your meeting.
Other features include the arrival of polls in Teams meetings powered by forms. Presenters and organisers can conveniently prepare and launch polls before, during and after meetings. Plus, attendees can easily respond to and view polls in a pop-up bubble or chat pane. Just add the Forms app as a tab to Teams to get started.
Full-screen support is now available once again for your Teams meetings, with the option to remove all other distractions from your screen – including the title and taskbars. Additionally, you can now start instant meetings from mobile devices with the Meet Now icon on your calendar tab and Teams channel app. Once you start a meeting, you can also use any messaging app on your mobile device to instantly add or invite participants.
Apple users can also expect an updated experience with the ability to see more participants discover shared content and spotlight participants. Elsewhere, Android users now have access to in-line message translation for global collaboration.
In chat, pinned posts are available for any channel, to help users keep track of important messages. There’s also the option to easily access a range of app templates for surveys, polls, and checklists in Teams when you need to gather crucial employee insights. Users on Teams can also set a specific presence for a set duration to help keep them on schedule.
Enhanced Calling Features with Teams and Teams Phones
Microsoft has delivered a host of updates to the calling experience in Teams lately. Users can use call merge to invite experts into calls or to merge PSTN and VoIP calls on Teams. There’s a new SBA feature to place and receive calls during WAN outages, available for certain SBC vendors. Microsoft also announced the arrival of a new Ericsson SBC certification too.
Some of the other major updates from Teams Phones include:
- Video enhancements: Teams phones support 3×3 gallery view video layouts, Together mode, and large gallery view. This gives users more ways to view participants on Teams videos with their devices
- Meet now on phones: The “Meet Now” function available in your calendar interface will allow you to instantly start meetings and add participants
- Screensharing: Certain touchscreen audio phones will allow users to see content shared or presented by others during calls and meetings
- Spotlight: From desktop clients, presenters can pin individual feeds for attendees to view during a meeting. The Teams phone user will see the spotlighted content as their main video
- Request to speak: Hard mute functionality stops distractions in meetings by preventing attendees from “unmuting”. Users can switch this functionality off and on with Teams phones
- Sidecar support: Microsoft is introducing a beta release of sidecar support. These accessories for Teams phones can help users to pin contacts to their Teams experience, and access crucial users quickly
- Phones in government: The Microsoft Teams phones solution is now available to deploy in the Microsoft 365 Government landscape
- Policy changes to HomeScreen and BetterTogether: Users will have access to new settings for enabling and disabling HomeScreen and BetterTogether on Teams phones
- Proximity meeting join: Microsoft Teams conference phones will now support proximity-based meeting join functionality. The Teams client on a mobile or PC can detect the proximity of conference phones and allow users to add these phones seamlessly into the meeting
Updates to Microsoft Teams Devices
To further enhance the communication experiences for Teams users, Microsoft unveiled a range of updates to Microsoft devices. One major update is the introduction of Microsoft Teams displays – a new category of all-in-one devices for Teams with hands-free Cortana experiences, and ambient touchscreens. These devices can integrate with computers seamlessly for easy access to a range of features from Microsoft Teams. Other device updates include:
- Yealink MP50 USB phone: A plug and play MP50 solution is available from Yealink to deliver easier access to calling functions in Teams instantly. The device supports quick meeting and call-joining, as well as Bluetooth and USB connections
- Yealink A20: This Android-based Teams Room supports huddle spaces and small meeting rooms. The A20 delivers enhanced video and audio through 8 MEMs microphones, and a 20MP camera with 133-degree horizontal FOV
- Poly Sync 20: This USB/Bluetooth smart speakerphone is certified with Microsoft Teams, offering up to 20 hours of talk time, smartphone charging, and IP64 water and dust resistance
- Microsoft Teams Rooms Android update: The new Android update for Microsoft Teams Rooms supports new gallery views, dual screens, and auto-answering for meetings. You can explore the latest features through the Admin settings now
- Surface Hub updates: The Surface Hub now supports Together Mode for meetings and large gallery view for up to 49 meeting participants
Customising Teams with 3rd Party Integrations
Microsoft also announced a range of new apps in Teams that can help to boost the experience for today’s users. The Disco app, for instance (formerly known as Growbot), helps with building stronger company culture and celebrating employee achievements. Alternatively, Q is an AI assistant that provides critical information based on what you want to work on. It sorts through countless articles to pull in only the most relevant information.
Elsewhere, Trello in Teams can help companies to keep on top of tasks within Teams. This app gives users access to assigned cards across all boards for the Teams they’re contributing to. You can also access Site 24×7’s app for Teams to give DevOps employees tools and services that help to avoid downtime and provide real-time data.
Lucidchart for Teams helps you bring teams together to work on flowcharts and network diagrams. Decisions for Microsoft Teams also empowers groups to have meetings with key functionality, such as viewing lists of upcoming meetings and reviewing notes.
Users on Microsoft Teams will also have the opportunity to build their own solutions with the new Power Apps app for Teams. This allows users to build and deploy custom apps without ever leaving Teams. Inspections and Great Ideas apps can also deliver extra value to developers, and the Dataverse relational datastore for Teams backs the app experience.
Power Virtual Agents is also now available for teams, and Microsoft will be providing a host of additional features including native authentication, which supports bots in delivering specific information to users based on identity. You can also make bots available to teammates too.
The highly anticipated Teams apps for meetings experience is also now generally available, with 20 apps on the store offering deeper integrations with Teams, such as Asana, Slido, and Monday.com. Familiar features like Forms are also available.
Microsoft’s Latest Use Cases
As part of the update for December, Microsoft revealed a range of use-cases designed to explain how organisations are using Teams to transform their strategies with teamwork. For instance, SAP, a company employing more than 93,000 people across 130 countries, uses Microsoft Teams as its single communication and collaboration solution.
On the other hand, Ricoh uses Teams as a platform for co-creation. The Japanese multinational imaging and electronics company empowers customer digital workplaces with Teams. Ricoh used a collaboration tool introduced in 1994 before Teams, and now 75% of the organisation relies on Teams for more agile work.
The Sega Sammy group creates sophisticated products and operates its own South Korean resort. Sega Sammy encountered a range of IT challenges on its path to growth, and Departments were using different chat tools after a merger. Embracing Microsoft Teams enabled better collaboration and flexibility for everyone involved.
Exploring the New Microsoft Teams Features
The latest updates from Microsoft Teams are an excellent insight into how Microsoft is always working hard to transform the way that people communicate and collaborate.
Even admins are getting new controls with this latest update. Managing Teams from the admin centre is much easier with a list of all users available within Microsoft Teams. You can click on “Manage Teams” to see the list.
New Teams administrator roles are also available through Azure Active Directory and the Azure Admin portal. You can find the appropriate profile in the Active Directory and add roles according to your needs. There’s also the option to automate the Teams lifecycle with Graph APIs.
Microsoft is also encouraging anyone who believes they have a good idea for Teams to submit their thoughts via User Voice or vote for existing ideas to help with prioritising user requests.
Microsoft frequently reads every piece of feedback to ensure that Microsoft users get the best possible outcomes based on their own requests and requirements.