After a bumper last twelve months, Microsoft Teams is breaking out of the home office and into our personal lives.
The video conferencing service is looking to take its battle to the likes of Zoom even further by introducing "personal features" in Microsoft Teams that it hopes will make it the only video calling tool you need.
The new features look to take Microsoft Teams away from being a purely business tool, and instead help to bring together friends and family from around the world as the pandemic hopefully begins to ease.
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Come Together (Mode)
In a blog post announcing the news, Microsoft's Liat Ben-Zur highlighted how services such as teams had helped people stay connected over an extremely difficult year.
"From online calls that will make you feel like you’re in the same place as your loved ones to group chats that will make coordinating plans with your loved ones a breeze, these personal features in Teams are designed to bring you closer to the people you care about so that you can call, chat, plan, and organize things big and small—together in one place," Microsoft's Corporate Vice President, Modern Life, Search, and Devices noted.
Among the new features is Together Mode, which looks to offer a different view from regular video calls, with backgrounds including a family lounge, coffee shop, or a summer resort.
Microsoft says this will help reduce video call fatigue as “your brain doesn’t have to work as hard when compared to a standard video call.”
Another addition is the ability to react with live emojis and GIFs during a call, allowing users to bring more emotions and personality to meetings.
If you've missed a vital call, Teams will also let you come back and catch up on the saved chat thread, where you can also react with emojis or GIFs - and also, unlike Zoom, carry on the chat after the call has finished.
Chat messages from Microsoft Teams threads can also now be converted into tasks which can be assigned to certain call members via Teams or even by an SMS text message. Teams will also let users set up polls to help decide on important topics like the menu for dinner or the next movie that the family will watch together.
Additionally, Microsoft will now also allow you to invite non-users to the group calls all by just sharing the invite link. These users can either download the app to join the call on the phone or can simply log in via a browser without needing to create an account.
Other features that have been added to Teams are the ability to arrange all the shared items for a group, including photos, files, links, shared tasks and events. Users can also create and switch between two different accounts to keep their personal and official profiles separate.
The new Microsoft Teams personal features are available today at no extra cost - and existing Teams for work users can add a personal account simply by clicking on their profile.
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