Microsoft Teams is getting a bunch of new features soon, here are our five top picks.
Microsoft Teams is the Redmond tech firm's premier online communication and collaboration platform. It is used by millions of customers daily, so it's no surprise that the company regularly adds new features to it in order to retain existing users as well as entice new ones. Recently, Microsoft added a range of new capabilities to Teams, including video filters, Elgato Stream Deck integration, and a UI revamp bringing better performance in tow. However, there are tons of other new features coming to the online communication app soon as well, and these are my picks of the top five coolest capabilities coming to Teams.
1 Automatic creation of Notes tab
If you utilize Teams in a professional environment, you have likely come across the process of creating a channel either to segregate different teams or different projects. The way the workflow works is that you add select people to a new channel, name it, and then add relevant apps and integrations to the channel that you feel will improve the productivity of this virtual workspace.
Microsoft is looking to make this process easier by automating a particular step. Soon, when you create a standard channel, a Notes tab will automatically be added to this space. Here, the entire team can share a OneNote notebook assigned to them with separate sections set up for each channel. It's a nifty capability to leverage and should make it easier for teams to work in a collaborative manner right away rather than leaving notes for each other in the channel's chat.
The automatic creation of the Notes tab in standard channels will become generally available later this month across Windows desktops and Macs.
2 Work hours and location
Although hybrid and remote work environments have become fairly commonplace now, not every online platform fully caters to this way of working. To improve this situation in its own Teams app, Microsoft is introducing the ability to set work hours and location directly in Teams. This will enable your team members to work with you while being conscious of your workflow and availability.
If you click on a user's profile in Teams, you will be able to see their working hours, location (remote versus office), online status, and meeting slots from Outlook. It's a long overdue improvement that should still please many Teams users, especially those who work odd hours or are working remotely from offshore locations.
This enhancement is also coming later this month on Windows desktop, Mac, Android, and iOS.
3 Compact chats
If you use Teams a lot, the chat panel on the app's left pane is likely a mess for you, and it's difficult to navigate and find relevant chats. Microsoft is intent on offering a better user experience in this space by offering people a way to condense chats in a compact view. This option will remove those previews you see below a person's name in the chat pane and just show their name instead.
It's a seemingly minor change but one that should free up a lot of space for those who don't want to see message previews and would rather just see a list of the people they want to talk to. This UX option will hit general availability on Windows desktops and the web next month.
4 Spatial Audio for Teams Rooms
Teams Rooms for Windows is a specialized SKU of Teams for organizations that want to use dedicated Teams-certified hardware to conduct meetings in shared environments and meet their hybrid video conferencing needs. Available in two variants, it offers multiple capabilities, including one-touch join, wireless sharing, provisioning of shared digital canvases, integration with enterprise-grade security and analytics tools, AI features, and more.
Microsoft is looking to make this an even more enticing option for customers through support for Spatial Audio in Teams Rooms for Windows. Essentially, customers leveraging Teams-certified stereo speakers will be offered "next-generation experiences" through AI-powered Spatial Audio technology, which will reportedly enhance audio to the point that it will feel like the people with whom you are communicating remotely are actually in the same physical space as you.
Although it sounds exciting on paper for Teams Rooms for Windows users, they will have to wait a bit longer as the feature will land on Teams and Surface devices next month.
5 Collaborative Stageview
Collaborative Stageview is yet another useful UX enhancement that should boost productivity for organizations that prefer working remotely in collaborative environments. Although Microsoft hasn't gone into a lot of implementation details and the overall UX, it says that users will be able to pop app content into a separate window where they can engage with it and each other in a dedicated space while chatting with other collaborators on the side.
Users of Collaborative Stageview will be able to work together on the shared app content and links in the dedicated window. Seeing that it pops content into a dedicated window, it makes sense that Microsoft is only implementing it for larger screen devices like Windows desktops and Macs, with a rollout planned for later this month.