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Microsoft Teams update launches avatars, camera filters and more

(Image credit: Shutterstock / dennizn)

Team meetings are about get even more interactive thanks to a whole host of new updates from Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft has upgraded its video conferencing service with a number of new additions aimed at helping workforces stay connected and engaged with each other, even with everyone working remotely.

To allow this, Microsoft Teams can now support up to 1,000 participants per call, as well as enabling larger meetings such as presentations for up to 20,000 participants.

Microsoft Teams update

The most striking update is the all-new "Together Mode", which looks to foster this spirit of connectivity by creating a live avatar for each participant. 

Created using "AI segmentation technology", your avatar, taken from the shoulders up from your webcam stream, is then projected into a virtual lecture room along with other participants. Microsoft says your avatars can wave, tap each other on the shoulder and even high-five, but wouldn't say what happened if they all froze in place.

The company says Together Mode will make meetings more engaging by allowing you to pick up on body language and facial queues much like you would in a real-life meeting. Having avatars should also make it easier to spot exactly who is talking in a meeting with lots of participants, rather than trying to guess which chat window is lighting up.

Microsoft Teams

(Image credit: Microsoft)

The new updates, which will roll out to all Microsoft Teams users from next month, also includes Dynamic view (pictured below), which looks to make it easier to share content on your screen alongside the view of your participants. 

This even includes virtual breakout rooms, where participants can be split into smaller groups for more focused discussion.

There's also a number of tweaks to help promote engagement on calls, including live reactions and chat bubbles to share your feedback directly and in real time, as well as suggested replies similar to those seen in Outlook and Gmail, allowing you to give quick feedback.

Microsoft Teams Dynamic view

Microsoft Teams Dynamic view (Image credit: Microsoft)

Cortana is finally getting a look-in on Microsoft Teams, with the company's voice assistant able to make a call, join meetings, send chat messages and share files. Microsoft is also adding live transcripts to Teams later this year alongside the ability to translate live captions into subtitles so anyone can follow a meeting that’s being held in another language.

Lastly, there will soon be video filters than will allow you to adjust lighting levels and soften camera focus in case your webcam needs a hand.

"We’ve reached an inflection point," Jared Spataro, Corporate Vice President for Microsoft 365 wrote in a blog post announcing the news.

"As the global response to COVID-19 evolves, communities around the world have moved from an era of “remote everything” into a more hybrid model of work, learning, and life."

"From the kickoff call to the project’s launch—and all points in-between—Teams is the place where people come together to get work done. Working alongside our customers, we’ll continue reimagining the future of work and delivering technologies that put people at the center of every experience."