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The coronavirus pandemic has forced more of us to work from home than ever before. As a result, technology such as Microsoft Teams has witnessed an unprecedented surge in demand. Indeed, Microsoft report that as of April 2021, active daily users were at an all-time peak of 145 million.
New updates and features.
As the platform now forms a crucial part of many businesses’ digital strategy, Microsoft have prioritised rapid updates and new features to keep developing and improving functionality. For those currently working from home (or even in the office!) it can be difficult to keep on top of all these new updates. With this in mind, we’ve selected 8 of the most exciting new features for Microsoft Teams since the beginning of the year.
1. Let’s Recap
The days of forgetting who said what, or where those all-important files are stored are long gone. Microsoft Teams now provides a recap of meetings – including meeting recordings (if enabled), transcripts, chats, attendance and shared files. This means that participants and even those unable to attend can review a meeting once it has ended.
2. Queue Messages Offline
For 2021, Teams now provides the ability to queue messages when you don’t have internet access. Messages will be automatically sent once a network connection is established. This feature ensures that no important correspondence ever gets forgotten again.
3. Tasks and Approvals
‘Tasks’ and ‘Approvals’ are both apps for Microsoft Teams that allows users to structure requests and publish task lists with teammates and partners. Similar to project management software, the apps are designed to foster a more streamlined, collaborative approach to tasks. Rather than sending an email or chat messages, the apps allow users to create requests and task lists, as well as manage and review all current, past and pending items.
4. Breakout Rooms
Breakout rooms have been around on several platforms for some time now – so it is fantastic to see this functionality on Teams for 2021. This update allows meeting organisers to move participants into several smaller groups, either assigned manually or randomly selected. Particularly useful for facilitating group discussions, organisers can join any of the individual breakout rooms, contribute to group chats and send announcements to all participants at once.
5. Join Meetings from Outlook
Just as you would in Teams, you can now open your calendar in Outlook, where a ‘Meet Now’ button can be found at the top of the menu. Users can simply select this option to open a Teams meeting, get a meeting link and invite other participants. You can also choose whether to meet now or schedule the meeting for later. It’s a simple feature, but one that will save users valuable time – especially if organising multiple meetings a day.
6. More Live Languages
Over the course of 2021, more languages will be added to Microsoft Teams – allowing for captions and translations during live events and meetings. In the continued effort to promote more inclusive working relationships, Teams have added additional languages such as Hindi, Korean and French (to name just a few). Users will be able to see captions for spoken languages or translations into their own native languages.
7. Better Functionality for Mobile Devices
There are several updates for 2021 that make Microsoft Teams easier to use on mobile devices. One of the most useful is the ability to access files even when you are offline (particularly great for those who travel for work). Users can select which files they’d like Teams to download – and these will be available in the mobile app. It is also now possible to fully present live events from iPads, with added functionality allowing for video and screen sharing, presenter-to-presenter chat and sharing.
8. AI-based Noise Suppression
Whether its multiple meetings occurring in a small space, children playing loudly or construction noise outside your home, unwanted background noise can be really distracting. Consequently, Teams have given users the ability to remove background noise during their calls and meetings with new AI-based noise suppression. Users can enable this feature by adjusting device settings before meetings and selecting ‘High’ in the ‘Noise suppression’ drop-down.
With so many exciting new features being added to Microsoft Teams, from offline capabilities to recapping meetings and noise-cancelling technology, it’s looking like a great year ahead for anyone using the platform!