Microsoft Teams update will put users in a virtual theatre

Virtual meeting rooms, dynamic views, and even a Cortana integration added to the collaboration platform

Microsoft has revealed a slew of changes to Teams that have been in development since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

The changes are designed to improve user experience on the collaboration platform and drive greater engagement.

It starts with "Together Mode", which is an artificial intelligence-based feature that places a digital avatar of the user in a virtual space. It essentially takes your face and shoulders and puts you, alongside the other members of the call, in a virtual theatre. This is being rolled out now, with other virtual spaces set to be added in the coming months.

The thinking behind the changes is to make users feel more "connected", according to Microsoft. It wants the service to be more inclusive by making people more visible when they join conference calls. To do this, it has added a "Dynamic View" which allows users to share content side by side with other participants.

In addition to Dynamic View, users can also share live reactions with their teammates. This essentially resembles emoji reactions that appear in their intended recipient's box as they talk. Teams will also have video filters where users can adjust lighting levels or soften focus to improve your webcam while on a call.

Live Reactions in Microsoft Teams

Later in the year Teams will also support live transcriptions with a translate feature for meetings in other languages. The service will also get suggested replies for its chat features, similar to Gmail's suggested replies function, that offers auto-fill text based on the context of the previous message in the channel. Microsoft is also adding 'chat bubbles' so that the messages can be seen more clearly by other participants in the call.

And, finally, Teams will also integrate Cortana, Microsoft's voice assistant, on the mobile version of the service. Cortana will be able to make a call, join meetings, share files with colleagues and even send chat messages.

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