During the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdown, people have been looking for ways to continue to work and study from home, with meetings and interactions still needing to take place. It has resulted in the likes of Zoom becoming wildly popular, but Microsoft Teams has also benefitted, offering a more business-focused solution.

To ensure more users are enticed to use its platform moving forward, Microsoft Teams recently unveiled a range of new features aimed at making interactions more engaging.

“Today we’re announcing a set of new features in Microsoft Teams that make virtual interactions more natural, more engaging, and ultimately, more human,” explains Jared Spataro, Corporate VP for Microsoft 365.

“These features offer three key benefits for people at work and in education. First, they help you feel more connected with your team and reduce meeting fatigue. Second, they make meetings more inclusive and engaging. And third, they help streamline your work and save time. It’s all about enabling people everywhere to collaborate, to stay connected, and to discover new ways to be productive from anywhere,” he adds.

As for the new features worth taking note of, the headlining one is Together mode. This is a new meeting experience in Teams which creates accurate digital versions of each participant and places them in a shared background (auditorium view), as seen in the header above.

Microsoft believes this new format will prove of great benefit for larger meetings such as brainstorming sessions where multiple people would be talking and engaging. This feature is expected to rollout in August, but it remains to be seen if this is region specific at this stage.

Along with Together mode, Microsoft Teams is also getting a Dynamic View feature. This follows the look of most videoconferencing platforms, but adds more controls for participants, most of which are AI driven.

This includes the ability to share specific content or information from participants, as well as having a larger gallery view which caters for up to 40 people, along with the ability to create virtual breakout rooms or split larger meetings into smaller groups.

Some of the other new features worth mentioning are video filters to play with lighting before joining a meeting, a Reflect messaging tool which allows participants to let the meeting organiser know how they’re feeling, and a few more elements like Powerpoint slide integration, chat bubbles and live transcription or captions for speakers.

Lastly, for those wanting to use Teams on mobile, Cortana will be extended its functionality to the app too, with the digital assistant capable of performing simple tasks when you’re not hands-free or preoccupied with something else.